Drowning Out the Noise

mass transitI used to take mass transit to make it to class every week. Everyone sits when their eyes fixated on the floor. If you ever make eye contact with someone, complete awkwardness ensues. Best to avoid such a thing.

Everyone is filling their ears with noise. Some with big Beats headphones, others with subtle, small earbuds. It’s a quiet ride, filled with noise. When a group of friends arrives for their ride, just turn up the tunes, then you don’t have to listen to them.

I run to a local park several times a week and without fail every runner I see (or pass, yes, it’s true) is pounding away on the path with headphones on.

I think the noise in our ears is a drug. Life has a terrible edge without it. When I first stopped running while listening to music my average pace fell off dramatically. I was relying on the noise to drive me, instead of my own body. And that’s when I knew I could never run with headphones again. I became so disconnected from the world around me, my body was acting differently.

Then I started driving without turning the radio on. Just silence, to and from work. Giving my brain the opportunity to see and hear the world around me.

A month ago Jonathan Merritt honed in on the danger of a noise-filled life:

One overlooked spiritual consequence of our noise addiction is a failure to hear spontaneous sounds. By tightly controlling and curating what we hear, we may block out everything else and muffle the God-messages sewn throughout the fabric of the world.

What we’re all starved for is not more noise, but actual silence. The kind of silence where we see our neighbor. A silence where God’s presence breaks through.

Each generation looks back at different fads 40 years later and wonders what they were thinking. Bell-bottom pants? I doubt those are ever coming back. Pet rocks? This doesn’t need an explanation. I think we’ll all look back 40 years from now and wonder why we thought going through life with headphones on was a good idea.

How much will we have missed by drowning ourselves in noise?

Why not try a week with no headphones? Try one week of commuting to work without podcasts or the radio on? Embrace the silence. Try praying instead. Process through your day. Think of a creative way to bless a friend or spouse or your kids. Take back your noise-filled time for something far more beneficial.

None of us need more noise in our lives, what we need is some silence so we can effectively process the noise.