Sunday 18 July 2010

The Silence and the Noise


You miss the silence when you live in a city. Noise surrounds you, pressing in on you, constantly swaddling you in a shroud of sound. Babies cry, competing with too-loud TVs, while phones ring and sirens scream and people shout to be heard. The sound muffles the real world, as our world becomes what we hear through televisions and radios and telephones. You long for silence, you miss it. You wonder if it still exists out there, if any part of the world still experiences quiet.

So you leave the city, go just beyond the suburbs. Countryside unfurls around you, and you see the world anew. The universe turns down the volume on life. A sudden panic grips you as you wonder if you've gone deaf. Do you still exist, if you hear no noise? Does the world still exist, if it produces no sound? The panic subsides when birdsong cuts across your paranoia. The clear melody, warbled with such finesse, soothes your mind like a lullaby from Mother Nature herself. You hear the roar of blood in your ears, and feel truly alive. You do exist, and for the first time in a long time, you are not a product, producer or victim of the noise. You are simply you, reconnected to the universe. Thoughts drift into your mind, you feel creative. You feel alive.

But a part of you misses the noise, the hubbub, the constant stream of sound. The noise was a comfort, a constant companion. It walked with you in dark places, and dampened idle worry with its onslaught. Out here, the silence feels lonely. You are alive, but you could be the only person alive. The noise proved other people surrounded you, but the silence forces you into isolation. Do other people exist if you cannot hear them?

So you return to the city. At first, the noise feels threatening, and it overwhelms you. But you settle into the cacophony, and escape into the mindless chatter of shouted adverts and one-sided mobile phone conversations.

It doesn't take long to miss the silence.


Anonymous said...

You know I can thoroughly relate to this. Lovely piece, Icy, and lovely reading. Well done!

Icy Sedgwick said...

Aw thanks! I had a day out in the countryside today and the lack of sirens etc. started to freak me out. I remember how much I understood your piece on noise, and wrote this on the train! I tried to slow down while I was reading, too.

Anonymous said...

Aw, that's sweet of you to say. If I ever got away from the noise here, though, I really doubt I'd miss it like you do. Sigh. (I like yours better than mine, though.):-)

Pamila Payne said...

Icy, that was lovely. I suffer from noise overload constantly in my daily life and I long for quiet more than anything. This was a beautifully written piece and you read it very well, clear, nice pace and well placed emphasis. Good for you keeping up with the audio posting.

Anonymous said...

I completely understand the need for silence and for noise. As a drummer, you'd think that I would love continual noise, but no, it is sometimes when you don't strike a drum or cymbal, or choose very carefully which drum or cymbal you strike. I love noise, but I also love silence.
Great piece, Icy.
Adam B

Icy Sedgwick said...

@Pamila - Thank you! I know I can talk quite fast so I had to make a concerted effort to slow down.

@Adam - I can't sleep without traffic noise now, but I do love the occasional day of silence to give me a break.

Laurita said...

Loved this. My friend and I just made a visit to our hometown, tiny, quiet little village, and we had this discussion. We didn't really think the town was that quiet, until we moved away to the city and then came back. Nothing but silence.

This was a great post.

Icy Sedgwick said...

I'm really glad you liked it! I'm from a quiet suburb and I didn't realise HOW quiet it was until I moved to a busy main road in the capital.

mazzz_in_Leeds said...

I can relate to this too - I think being able to appreciate both scenarios is the way to be.
City lifestye for me, with escapes to the countryside every so often. I do love the countryside though, so Isuspect I will retire somewhere quiet. Someday :-)

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