I’ve been having problems sleeping at night lately because of the construction noise right outside my window. So much so that I go to bed when I’m extremely tired, hoping that I would fall to sleep through the noise, and yet ending up tossing and turning to the music of steel-meeting-steel outside my window for 1-2 hours. I tried to drown it out by switching on something on my iphone, and putting earphones, and yet the fact remains that any sound tends to keep me awake, including what I’m listening to.
So I decided to give myself the headache (literally) and just listen to the noise. The more I listen to the noise, the more I appreciate the moments of silence in between. I listen to the banging, and though someone else might hear it as the cacophony that it is, I start to think of it as something else. I start finding a rhythm, start predicting the rhythm.
But it also makes think that there are two types of noise; the noise our minds register (what I’d like to call the “noisy noise” like when someone is talking directly to us or we are listening to a lecture) and white noise – background noise that is all around us everyday; the clicks that people around you make when they type on their computers; the ringing of phones; the chatter and laughter around the water cooler; the doors closing at a distance. When you’re focusing on something, white noise is easy to push to the background. It’s there but you can’t really hear it. Or maybe you hear it-the sound waves go through your ears-but your mind can’t really register it, so you end up hearing it, without actually listening to it.
Then there there are two types of silence. There is the sort of eerie silence that people do anything to fill. The one that makes them jump when broken by a sudden outburst of sound waves. And then there is the comfortable blissful silence that makes a person close their eyes and reflect on life. In a normal day, how many moments of blissful silence do we really experience. Ask the typical person and they probably experience it just before they fall asleep; 5 minutes, 15 minutes, 30 minutes?
In the eerie silence, the slightest noise scares you. In the comfortable silence, the slightest noise distracts you. In the noisy noise, the smallest silence can either be captured, appreciated or tuned out. As for the white noise, the smallest silence can be missed.
Even people can be categorized in terms of silence and noise. There are people who stand out (like the noisy noise), and those who are just there; whether they are present or absent others don’t notice (like white noise). Then there are the soldiers in the shadow (the comfortable silence), then there are people who lead double lives (the eerie silence).
The white-noise-type of people are the ones who get bullied and pushed around, so one day they decide to become noisy-noise-people by doing something extreme. The comfortable-silence-people are the ones who others take for granted so much that one day they might end up leading double lives.
So when you hear noise or silence today, stop and listen to it and try to read the silence between the noise or the noise between the silence.