This is the first time I’ve written for the weekly writing challenge. I’m surrounded by silence, by the sound of my neurons firing frantically as I try to figure out what this article is going to be.
Actually, I lied. It’s not silence. There is sound all around me. My computer is humming softly to itself, occasionally muttering and flickering its lights. The speakers are emitting white, static-y sound. But apart from the tapping of the keyboard keys, my desk is quieter than the one next to me. You can hear the sound of that computer anywhere in the house. I blame the fan. And the fact that it’s a boy’s computer with blue internal lights. Machines have personality and that one’s is loud.
The rush hour cars are illegally speeding by past my front window. That’s another sound that doesn’t often cease; it’s become background to me. The fridge is humming electronically. Across the road is a dog behind a fence that will bark at anything, especially cars. Do dogs see colour? I wonder if across-the-road-behind-the-fence dog has a favourite car colour, and whether he/she barks more or less often at those. I always point out a VW camper van (you know, the ones the hippies love) whenever I see one. If I was a dog I’d be barking.
Here comes the evening again. It must be getting to dusk now because I just heard an insect croaking outside. Definitely croaking, rather than singing, or chirping, or another bright and happy sound. This insect doesn’t sound bright and happy. Perhaps he’s as sick of the barking as I am. Or maybe in his world, the ideal mate is one that loves emos, and dark mysterious music of the night.
Hmmm. All of these are definitely sounds, but as I write it does feel that I am surrounded by silence. Or rather, a lack of people-sound. No voices raised in banter or questions asked about how your day went. No walking-around-the-house, eating-last-night’s-cold-pizza, switching-on-the-tv-and-lazing-on-the-couch sounds. No music, that fundamental instrument of communication, relaxation and social connection. No-one else is here, and the lack of human sound is bringing that home to me.
Sometimes I’ll write my blog with music on, sometimes without. The radio, a new album, YouTube, a random tune hummed aloud. Sometimes my better half will be playing games on the computer next to me, or practising guitar, or suggesting cool articles to read. I almost always blog from home, usually in the evening, and whether or not he’s here right there and then he influences me. I’m tuned in to what he’s doing, wherever he is in the house. Or I’m listening out for the car to pull into the garage and the front door to open with a swish of the screen and a click of the key.
But my better half isn’t home at the moment. He’s gone away for work for three months. And without him here, my world is a much, much quieter place. I’m not sure whether I can concentrate better with or without the sound of him, and the sounds he brings into my world. The house is quiet without the chatter of two people who have nothing and everything to say to each other, who just want to hear another person’s voice, who are happy just to be in each others’ presence, whatever we’re doing. I don’t even have any pets to harass for love, unless you count the houseplant that hasn’t quite died over winter.
Some people say sound is therapeutic. Even necessary. It’s certainly an important facet of everyday life that gives us our multi-layered view of our environment. I’m glad that I’m not deaf, but I know that ordinarily I miss out on a lot of sounds because my brain just doesn’t process it all. It doesn’t need to. But this lack of, shall we say, noise, is a little disconcerting. I’m wearing a cloak of concentration to try to block out the environment, to block out the thought of noise, of the soft sound of feet padding up behind me, of how much I miss it. I don’t know how long I can go without having to turn on something louder than the mechanical hummings of the computers.
That emo insect is still croaking his song. Persistent little guy. Perhaps I can turn this into a Little Mermaid moment and gather all the animals into a singing number. Not a large orchestra or anything, but I guess the song would be “White Noise”.