silence that isn't silence


I found this and thought it might be an interesting blog post. I wrote it in April of 2009. It was a writing prompt from the book “The Pocket Muse.”

When I sit here at my desk and listen I hear quite a lot. Even when it is quiet. When it is quiet, that is when I hear the most subtle of noises. The first of these noises is the clock. It is hanging above me, red and round and it ticks. I don’t really notice it during the day when I’m busy but when I am silent I hear it. And it is loud. And constant.

When I listen past the clock I hear the sound of air. Like a fan or something whirring softly. Lightly. This is a very quiet sound that is in the background of my day, all day. I wouldn’t notice it except that when the noise stops a half an hour before the library closes, I miss hearing it. This is when the heater/air conditioning is turned off. When that sound is not going it feels empty and hollow. And cold.

Another background sound is the beeping of the bar code readers. I have gotten used to this noise but it drives some people nuts. I’ve had people ask me whether or not that sound bothers me. It only bothers me if I know it is bothering someone else. when I really listen to it, I can see that it is a really awful sound. A high- pitched shrieky sound.

These sounds are the constant background noise of my day. This is what I hear, constantly, when it is quiet. Which is very rare.  Much of the time i hear the sound of children throwing tantrums and crying. I hear people chatting.

I wonder about this lack of quiet. I wonder about these background noises. How they affect me daily. See, now that I’ve noticed and and written about it the clock is driving me a little nuts. I do still like the sound of the ventilation system though. It is very calming.

So I guess there truly is no such thing as silence, is there. There are always those background noises that don’t go away. That are always there, affecting us unconsciously.