On the course I’m doing, we discussed the issue of noise the other day. In particular, we talked about the harmful effect of noise exceeding a certain level of intensity over a prolonged period of time. Along the way, we touched on individual tolerance for background noise in a work setting.
I have to admit, I have an extreme aversion to any kind of background noise if I am trying to write, read, hold a conversation or think. Even a ticking clock sends me berserk, and the sound of The Son’s music reverberating round the house is enough to transform me into The Mother From Hell. For my kids however, music has been a literal soundtrack to their lives, a source of comfort in stressful exam and revision times.
For me, eliminating background noise in a metaphorical sense is something I find myself doing more and more. I tolerate fewer distractions, preferring stillness over jangle any day of the week. A fellow student on the course told us of time spent last summer in the Kalahari desert. The bushmen, living their days in the silence of the desert, speak quietly to one another (why would they need to shout?) and have much sharper hearing than we city-dwellers can imagine.
Maybe it’s an age thing, but I find myself listening to sharpen up my sense of hearing more and more. I don’t want to miss a thing.