February 19, 2014 – When I worked in PR and advertising back in the day, we spent a lot of time assembling media packages. My co-workers and I would amuse ourselves by discussing the deeper questions in life while working the assembly line of brochures, trinkets, and press releases. It helped pass the time.
I once posed the question – would you rather lose your sight or your hearing – and received a witty response from a co-worker. He said, “My hearing, so I don’t have to listen to this absurd conversation.”
We chuckled; he had a quick sense of humor. Still, the go to response for most people would be to keep their sight. Getting through life without it would be difficult. However, the thought of never hearing a baby’s laugh or a beautiful piece of music is enough to make me at least ponder the question.
As a kid, I had a low percentage of hearing in both ears, although we didn’t know about it until I was in second or third grade. The doctors cured me by removing my tonsils and adenoids, and by placing Teflon tubes in both ears. When I returned from the hospital, everything was different. Even the simple task of playing on my front porch resulted in panic; the passing cars and trucks made me crazy since they were sounds I wasn’t accustomed to.
I quickly adjusted and ever since, I’ve come to appreciate my hearing, and rarely spend time in the silence I knew before. In the office, I sit at my desk surrounded by white noise and the sound of my co-workers typing on their keyboards; in my car I listen to the radio; At home, the television or the stereo is on. Even when I go to bed at night, the sounds of the ceiling fan or the humidifier fill the room.
The last time I drove to work in silence was a few years ago when my battery light came on as I was driving onto I-95. I managed to pull over and quickly restart, but fearing it would happen again, I pulled back on the road after turning off the music. I surrounded myself with the sounds of silence, and oddly, even the traffic seemed hushed.
It also made me ultra-aware of what is going on around me, and affected me in other places outside of my car; the clock in work that sits above my desk, for instance, began to drive me crazy. Oddly, I could hear it tick, and had to turn on music to drown it out. It works both ways, I suppose, and it is nice to have the option.
There is something about silence that is appealing. As long as there isn’t an annoying clock ticking in the background to spoil it.