I miss the sound of silence. In an age when silence should be on the endangered list, I believe that society has been changed by constant and incessant noise. People have become addicted to it. They are no longer comfortable with their own thoughts – or in their own skin for that matter. They must always be talking, texting, and playing music or noisy games. Few are considerate of other people’s quiet space because the idea of silence and solitude is alien to them.
At one time I enjoyed getting away from daily responsibilities by sitting down to a quiet meal in a restaurant, alone with a good book, or with friends for a nice talk. Now there is no such place as a quiet restaurant. I can’t concentrate to read, and conversation becomes a chore.
Years ago, Mike and I enjoyed tent camping by a lake until the boom boxes drowned out the reason for going. Even fishermen seemed to find silence an anathema that must be exorcised by noise.
The grocery store is not safe from loud music. I don’t doubt it’s a ploy to keep concentration at a minimum. At one time all you had to contend with was crying babies, screaming kids, and yelling mothers. Now, combined with loudly piped in racket, who can blame some poor slob from grabbing stuff from shelves as fast as possible without benefit of price comparison.
No movie theater is safe from talkers and noise makers. Why they bother to pay for a movie is beyond me when they could go anywhere else and talk to their hearts’ content. I always pick a seat along the back wall where nobody can get behind me.
Even at home one is not safe sharing a movie with friends or family. Inevitably there will be at least one talker, and one other who feels compelled to answer. It no longer happens at our house. We will either talk and stop the movie. Or we will watch the movie and stop the talk. Both at the same time is just plain crazy.
And I hate telephones. They used to be just irritating and disruptive. Now they are a force of nature. The ringer on my house phone is always turned off. I got into that habit as a caregiver for both parents. The phone was available if I needed it. Distraught people would ask, “What if someone has an emergency?” To which I would reply, “Dial 911.”
It’s not that I am unfeeling or unsympathetic. I have both of these in spades to the point that it is almost impossible for me to say no to anyone hurting or in need. But when it got to the point where everyone else’s emergencies and needs were my problem, I had to turn it off and let it go. And most of them are tempests in teacups that should be taken care of without passing the problem on to someone else.
No. I do not want silence all the time. I like music. Sometimes I like it loud. I like talking, but mostly in person, not on a phone. Phones are for talking with a purpose, not just to take up time. I used to love playing board games, but nobody plays around here. Mike got me a computer Scrabble game once. I hated it. I want human, eye to eye, face to face contact, not a disembodied computerized something. The last time I played a two-handed game of Rummy, I had to endure constant texting and phone ringing from the other side. Never again.
Yes, the world has lost the sound of silence, and has buried solitude under busyness. People no longer seem to understand that being alone is not necessarily lonely. The Bible says to “make every thought captive”, and, “as a man thinks in his heart, so he is”. It also says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” It also gives us things to think about that might even keep our thoughts more healthy and centered. It says to think about those things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report.
How does one know who he is, or if his thoughts can be something other than dark or depressing? How can he know if his thoughts can actually turn to things lovely and honest and true, if he doesn’t try them out – practice them in his own head – alone?
Yes, silence is golden. Solitude is priceless. If we just make it so.
(Psalm 46:10; Proverbs 23:7; Philippians 4:8)