The sky is draped with clouds, making my world more quiet. I listen carefully. There is no wind and the birds are quiet. I hear the droning sound of a barge in the distance, which is strangely comforting. I read somewhere that the little, day-to-day sounds connect us to our environment. Like some smells bring back fond memories, certain sounds can make us feel comfortable and safe. They put us in a state of relaxation, so that our senses can roam freely and we expand our awareness.
Unfortunately, when loud or unexpected sounds drown out the little sounds, we are programmed to pay attention. It puts us in a state of alarm and distress. We narrow our focus; potential danger ahead.
Gordon Hempton, acoustic ecologist and avid collector of sounds across the world, defines real quiet as presence. Not an absence of sound, but an absence of noise. Noise is ubiquitous in our world. According to Hempton, real silence is an endangered species on the verge of extinction.
This strange time offers us an unexpected, remarkable gift. Silence. Make use of it. Close your eyes and listen carefully, so that you remember what we have lost.