The problem with noise

I’ve been thinking a lot about noise lately. Noise has the ability to calm by way of relaxing music or a soothing voice; it can startle eg a loud unexpected bang; it can irritate like a barking dog or dripping tap. Our relationship with noise is dependent on our mood usually. I have memories of my mother saying, usually towards the end of the long Christmas school holidays, that she just needed some ‘quiet’, and now I find myself saying a similar thing!

It was interesting to note that the dictionary definition of noise included this: Informal. extraneous, irrelevant, or meaningless facts, information, statistics, etc. There is so much more of this type of noise these days, isn’t there?

I find increasingly that when I feel I need some quiet, I’m hankering to escape the ‘noise’ of the world; to take myself off where there is no internet connection and no traffic or people.
We are bombarded with noise now. Our inboxes are filled with ‘noise’ – extraneous, irrelevant, meaningless facts and information. Our social media sites, as well as giving us updates on our friends, also deals out an unhealthy amount of noise.

And, for me, anyway, that noise can be so loud that it drowns out the noise we do want to hear. We get so used to the white noise filling our heads that we miss out on other important sounds.

We miss the sound of a friend, desperate for connection because we end up skimming our facebook newsfeed due to all the other noise. We miss the sound of our children, begging us to play, to notice them, to really see them, in the midst of our phones pinging and beeping with emails and text messages.

And we miss the sound of our own souls screaming for attention in a world noisy with spiritual options, self-help mantras and conflicting dogma. We are so overcome with noise that we miss the most important sounds of all.

It’s a challenge to listen when so much noise surrounds us. It’s hard to decipher the sounds we should listen to and the sounds we should ignore. But, it is possible. It just may take some decision making, followed up with some discipline. At the beginning of the year, I ‘unsubscribed’ from many newsletters, blogs and websites. There was nothing wrong, per se, with those things, it was simply too much noise.

And you know what, I haven’t missed them! Not one bit. In fact, it’s been quite the opposite. I can feel myself mentally exhaling in relief that my inbox is now uncluttered and ‘less’ than it used to be. And that’s just a start. I’ve been paring down in other ways too – picking my phone up less, turning the TV on less, checking facebook less. As a result, I’m thinking more, connecting more, reading more – enjoying more! That old maxim really is true – less is more.
Is there too much noise in your life? What sounds are you missing out on because of it? Maybe it’s time to start tuning in to what really matters and tuning out the rest.