Please Be Quiet

"Noise pollution is one of the most serious issues of our time. You may be so accustomed to the damage it is doing to your mind, body, and spirit that you aren't even conscious of it, but in the manmade world, both indoors and in the outside parts of our world where human engineering dominates, there is now a never-ending cacophony. Growling cars. Screeching tires. Pounding construction. Roaring airplanes. Moaning pipes. Whining refrigerators. Blips, beeps, and dings from microwave ovens and computers. Plus, every annoying sound imaginable, and some unimaginable, from cell phones.

"Try this little experiment right now: listen deeply. While for the sake of focus, sleep, or other forms of self-preservation, your brain tries hard to shut out those noises that aren't pertinent to you, take things in the opposite direction and try to identify every single noise you hear. The more you concentrate on doing this, the more sounds you tend to identify. In fact, depending on your location and the time of day, identifying all of the different sounds can seem impossible.

"Constant sound of some sort from our environment has been prevalent one hundred, five hundred, and twenty-five thousand years ago, what with wind, insects, rodents, water, and everything else in constant motion. Yet the difference between then and now is the unending moan, cough, groan, and wail of manmade sounds that are ever-present almost everywhere today. Our brains and bodies were designed to be on the alert for raucous sounds — thousands of years ago, raucous sounds were exceptions to the comfortable 'all is well' sounds of wind, waves, crickets, and chirping birds. Thousands of years ago, raucous sounds meant 'Beware, hide from the growling lion,' or, 'Take cover, a thunderstorm is near,' or 'Run, a forest fire is approaching!' Today, there are always growling lions in the vicinity, constant thunderstorms nearby, and fires repeatedly approaching in the form of trucks, trains, airplanes, jackhammers, Vanilla Ice ring tones, and all of the other varieties of cacophony.

"For this reason, too, it is no wonder that so many people feel stressed, depressed, and weary. It's no wonder people are so jumpy and angry. Some part of our brains must be working unnaturally hard at shielding our conscious awareness from this constant stream of raucousness — sounds that, in our natural state, would be few and far between and reserved for potential threats. Reading this now, you may think it makes sense in theory — yes, our brains may be overheating from repeatedly trying to barricade our awareness of noises that should be infrequent but are never-ending. Yet it is only when you finally spend time somewhere in nature, far removed from a manmade environment, where fewer cacophonic manmade sounds reach, that you realize — by contrast — how jarring, unnerving, and disturbing all of that noise back home is."