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The Benefits of Silence for us All

Marion Charatan

Posted on November 3, 2019 14:37

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We need a 'quiet revolution' in our daily lives. The dailygood.org examines the downside of noise pollution.

Many of us are familiar with the haunting masterpiece The Sounds of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel. The opening lyrics are "Hello, Darkness, my old friend. I’ve come to talk with you again.”

Think about that. What was Paul Simon, at age 21, trying to convey? The words could be interpreted as the examination of sleep and the dream state that affords Simon the peace and quiet needed to reflect about the world.

Lately, I am jarred at least two to three times a day by the blare of raging police or ambulance sirens invading the Seattle environment, causing an excessive daily dose of noise pollution.

How do I react? Just as noted in the article, I cover my ears in frustration or put in ear plugs. It’s so loud, I can’t hear myself think!

I know I'm not alone. I’ve talked to friends in different cities who feel they are being invaded by the noise toxicity, too—either in the form of construction, inconsiderate neighbors, cars, barking dogs or emergency vehicles.

What’s the long term effect of all of this?

In his book In Pursuit of Silence George Prochnik looks at how people react when they don’t have quiet.

When the dinosaurs dominated Earth millions of years ago, undoubtedly, our earliest ancestors could hear every branch they stepped on, every stream they passed by and every raindrop that fell to the ground. This ability to ‘hear’ the environment could make one more connected, in my opinion.

That’s why I think I feel so flustered and jumpy every time I have to listen to grating, shrill sirens. It’s disruptive and is a constant reminder of the chronic problems in the world.

Admittedly, hearing a branch snap might have warned primordial humans that dangerous aggressors were close by. But it might also have served as a reminder that nature was alive and well (perhaps a noise resulted from them stepping on branches and was nothing more sinister).

Ironically, I work with ‘noise’ in the radio business but it is in a controlled environment. The outside sounds I hear seem to more threatening and are often not soothing—like an angry man yelling or a screeching siren.

To combat our ’modern’ affliction of noise pollution, some environmental activists are talking about creating ‘natural sanctuaries of silence.’ These would be natural areas that do not bear the burden of never ending car engines, roaring sirens, construction, boom boxes, etc.

All of this supports the benefit of meditation—turning into one’s ‘quiet place.’ In Walden (published in 1854), Henry David Thoreau encouraged his readers to be “the Lewis and Clark of your own streams and oceans; explore your own higher latitudes.”

Right now, one of my favorite things to do is sit quietly by a lake a mile from my office and listen to the water gently touch the shore. When I do this, I can hear myself think again.

Marion Charatan

Posted on November 3, 2019 14:37

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Source: Forbes

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