“Without turning on the light he imagined how this room would look. His wife stretched on the bed, uncovered and cold, like a body displayed on the lid of the tomb, her eyes fixed in the ceiling by invisible threads of steel, immovable. And in her ears the little Seashells, the thimble radios tamped tight, and an electronic ocean of sound, of music and talk and music and talk coming in, coming in on the shore of her unsleeping mind. ” From Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
It’s a brand new product presented on the Today Show last week among other products marketed to get us through summer: waterproof earbuds. Now when you go swimming, music or talk, noise of some sort, can follow you, even underwater.
Just think! There’s one more place to escape silence. But why do we work so hard to avoid silence? Why are our own thoughts something to run from?
David DiSalvo in Psychology Today says most of us just can’t stand to be alone without a distraction–technology or other people:
“Timothy Wilson, psychology professor at the University of Virginia (U.Va.), and colleagues from U.Va. and Harvard conducted 11 experiments to determine how well people tolerate a few minutes of quiet time. They tested a broad age range, from college students to folks pushing their 80s, and found a consistent result: people have a hard time tolerating even a few minutes alone with nothing vying for their attention.”
Chris Masterjohn, PhD, agrees: “[S]ilence can often cause restlessness and anxiety when we are not at peace inside. In silence, our attention is drawn inward, to all the contradictions, anger, or frustration that might lie there. Listening to music, watching television, and filling our lives with various types of noise can often drown out this silence so that we can continue to postpone dealing with these issues.”
But it’s not just that we aren’t dealing with our own internal issues when we seek distraction from them. Relying on noise to distract us affects our health and our dealings with others.
“Noise also affects our heart-rhythm and blood-pressure, and the way we behave towards one another. The louder the noise, the more aggressive we become.”
In our time, silence is a worthy pursuit, and pursue it we must.
Robert Sarah writes, “Sounds and emotions detach us from ourselves, whereas silence always forces man to reflect upon his own life.”
When God’s prophet Elijah was fleeing persecution, he witnessed, first, a wind strong enough to break rocks, then an earthquake, and then a fire. But the Lord was not in the noisy disruptions of Elijah’s environment.
The Lord was in the still, small voice that asked, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (I Kings 19:11-13 NIV).
He alone can comfort us in our fears. He alone can heal our inner turmoil.
“Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10 NIV).
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