My beloved wife is a fan of music. I am too. But I think just as much, she’s a fan of noise. By this I mean she does not really like to be in a room full of silence. When she goes into a room, music comes on. When she is going to go into a room, she makes sure the room has music on before she gets there if possible (oh, the modern wonders of wireless devices!). Since the time that we have been together, we have always slept with music on and the volume set low.
And I’m always fine with that. I like music, too.
But I also like my silence, or I like having regular sounds around me at times, and that includes something that I’ll call silence. For example, I drive without the radio on often because I like to hear the traffic around me. This is even better with the top down in my little Miata. I like hearing brakes, and squeaking cars and squealing fan belts. I like hearing the thump of music coming from the enclosed compartments of cars filled with kids or whatever. And, don’t tell Lisa this, but sometimes I even turn off the music when I’m home alone. The sound of silence is a unique sound, meaning it’s different everywhere. There’s a strong cycle to it in the basement, focused on the ventilation system or the furnace (depending on the time of year). The sound of the kitchen is a low hum augmented by any breeze scrubbing against the window.
I’m thinking about this right now because I recently heard a simple, but really fascinating podcast from Here Be Monsters on the subject. It’s titled “Fear of Silence”, and it’s some 14 minutes long. The conceit of the piece is built around what happens when an interviewer has to spend two minutes in silence with another person (the interviewee) in order to get a background sound check.
I loved this podcast because it made me think of what silence is.
Not, of course, that I have any answers.
But I thought you might find it interesting, and I thought you might be in a place of your life where spending a few minutes thinking about silence would be helpful.