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Make a little less noise now and then -- and hear a little better.

Turning A Deaf Ear To Yourself With Noise

What are people so damned afraid of hearing that they have to make so much noise all the time? Whether it’s having their televisions or radios on all the time, roaring around in cars with special attachments to make them louder, or continually talking at the tops of their voices, they always sound like they’re trying desperately to drown something out.

They can’t go out into their gardens without taking some sort of power tool with them; hedge trimmer, lawnmower, weed whacker, leaf blower, or chain saw. Heaven forbid they should actually sit still and enjoy the restful attributes of a beautiful garden or a secluded yard. It’s as if they only created these places as arenas for utilizing the latest in lawn gizmos and excuses to make even more noise.

Gone are the idyllic days when husbands had to be booted out of the hammock and away from their beer and rest in order to mow, maybe trim the lawn. It now seems everyone can’t wait to get out there and get at it to make some noise. Did they misunderstand the KISS concert they went to all those years ago when they were urged to make some noise? Instead of recognising it for the same old rock star bullshit, they have taken it as their personal mantra for middle age and beyond.

You can almost see their lips moving, repeating the magic words “make some noise, make some noise,” over and over again. Perhaps they think by chanting the words in accompaniment to the actions of churning out hundreds if not thousands of decibels, they would be able to reclaim some of their lost youth. Who knows?

It’s not just men either; women can be just as bad. They have even more ways of drowning out the world around them at their disposal aside from garden tools and electric saws. Vacuums. Good lord, some of them are as loud as power sanders and probably have the same effect on carpets as sanders have on wooden floors. Stripping layers of carpet away and not just lifting the dirt off.

Of course, they also have the television on while they are vacuuming. In order to hear over the noise they make while sanding their carpets, they have to crank the volume on the set so high it throws the sonar of passing airplanes out of whack and sends them off course.

I used to wonder why people standing next to each other were shouting loud enough for others two blocks away to hear. It’s because they’ve gone deaf from their damned noisemakers and can’t carry on a conversation anymore without shouting.

On more than one occasion I have heard people complaining about the noise of somebody else’s machinery and wince when they hear it. But they will think nothing of turning on something of their own, making an equal, if not louder, noise. Is somebody else’s noise always louder than our own? Or is it that our noise is justified because it accomplishes its task by drowning out whatever thoughts we don’t like and are having at the time?

When I was younger, I liked loud music. I used to go out to bars and stand right under the speaker stacks, but I stopped doing that by the time I was in my mid-twenties. Even when I was doing that, it was only for a specific instance in time and not on a continual basis. It was stupid fun to leave a bar with your ears ringing very faintly and feeling like your head was in a fishbowl because of the pressure increase behind your eardrums.

Now I watch these kids drive around in their little Hondas made to sound like Ferraris and see the whole car vibrating as it drives down the street because of the massive bass speakers in the trunk. I wonder, how loud is it inside that little box of tin if I can hear and feel the bass from over two blocks away?

Even if they were sitting in a basement somewhere shooting crack into their arm, they couldn’t be doing any more damage to their ability to think and be aware of the world around them. Why are all these people out there desensitizing themselves with noise? What are they so afraid of feeling or hearing that one way or another people of all ages have turned the volume up past ten?

I know from living next door to noise junkies and experiencing collateral damage that even at a distance it’s almost impossible to hold on to coherent thoughts. Trying to write or think up ideas on what to write while that cacophony is proceeding is next to impossible. What must it be like for them?

When I was abusing alcohol and drugs, I was doing it to shut my brain down so I wouldn’t have to think about things that made me uncomfortable. It desensitized me so that I couldn’t feel or remember anything. I’m not saying all these people have personal stuff they’re running away from, but they sure seem to blocking out something.

Seeing how most of the men in my neighbourhood are in early retirement, perhaps they are trying to avoid thinking about the days to come. What’s going to happen with them when the future arrives and they haven’t prepared mentally and emotionally for it? There’s no point in obsessing on the future, but that doesn’t mean you ignore it.

The young people in their cars are escaping their realities as well. They may have jobs, but what do they pay and what kind of future do they hold? What do they have to look forward to? When that nihilism is combined with youth’s belief in their own immortality and immunity to danger, it goes a long way in explaining the flash and desperation of their lifestyle.

They seem to be attempting to cram danger and excitement into their lives in an attempt to deny the bleakness of their future and the banality of their jobs through their music and vehicles. The voice in their head, telling them they are being cheated out of something, can’t be heard when they are crammed into a small tin box that is exploding with sound.

They know it won’t last forever. They will be absorbed into the great maw of society that will devour and turn them into their parents. The louder the music, the less chance they have of hearing the voice of doom until it is right in their face.

The trouble with avoidance as a philosophy of life is that when you finally do get around to facing up to stuff, it’s become that much harder to deal with. Whether you’ve deadened emotional pain with narcotics, drowned your heart with alcohol, or blocked out the warning voice of reason with noise, it will all come home to roost one day like Turkey Vultures and the shock will be severe.

So many people seem to not care that what they don’t do today will come back to make their life worse in the future. You may be able to avoid listening to your problems or thinking about them for a while, but not forever, no matter how loud you make your life.

Why not try to make a little less noise now and then, and hear a little better. Maybe then, when the future arrives, it won’t be as bad as the thoughts you’ve avoided were leading you to believe it would be. You also might find there are a lot of nice things to listen to in the world. Consider that a bonus.

About Richard Marcus

Richard Marcus is the author of two books commissioned by Ulysses Press, "What Will Happen In Eragon IV?" (2009) and "The Unofficial Heroes Of Olympus Companion". Aside from Blogcritics his work has appeared around the world in publications like the German edition of Rolling Stone Magazine and the multilingual web site Qantara.de. He has been writing for Blogcritics.org since 2005 and has published around 1900 articles at the site.

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