They say it now takes up to 2000 hours to record one hour of uninterrupted nature sounds.
There is a good chance that this is the same “they” that told us we eat 8 spiders every year, but it illustrates a point: we are in a constant sound bath, and more and more it is made up of the artificial noises born of our modern society.
Some bemoan this fact and say they long for the days before cars and trucks and aeroplanes and hooligans with boomboxes on their shoulders. Others would go farther, and wish for the days of hunter-gatherer, where the sounds were limited to those of nature. Wind, birds, the desperate crush of your bare feet on the grass as you fled the snarl of the wolf pack that was going to eat you because we were stuck squarely in the middle of the food chain. I say I would go back even further, back before we even had ears to hear with. The peace and calm of a soundless, sightless existence at the birth of life.
I actually really like sound, and I think it provides us with an often missed opportunity for mindfulness.
Sound brings us many opportunities for judgment, so it also brings us many opportunities to not judge. It is one of the best laboratories to observe how something starts in the senses, triggers an emotion, and then our thoughts jump in to start telling us a story about why we do or do not like it, and what must be done.
Take the sound of a car with a kickass bass system at 4am. It is just a dull, rhythmic thud, but a dull rhythmic thud that wakes us up. This brings discomfort. It is just early enough to keep us exhausted, but not early enough that we can go back to sleep and get good rest. We’ll probably be a zombie today, and everything will suck. Oh man, this is going to pile up on us all week, and then we’ll spend the weekend trying to catch up. There go all the projects we had planned. What kind of douchebag has a system like that anyway? Why does everyone else need to hear their music, especially when it probably sucks? G Eazy or some shit like that. This is the problem with people now – no one has any respect for anyone else, no one cares about anyone else, everyone sucks. They are most likely driving drunk. No one with a system like that in their trunk is out for a good reason at this time of night. We’re not saying we hope it happens, but if they were to go to jail for life or die in a car crash (just them of course, we’re not monsters), it would not be a tragedy. We probably wouldn’t lose a cure for cancer, as Bill Hicks would say.
Now, notice that everything after the word “discomfort” is part of a story told by the mind and nothing more. A dull thumping in the night led us to all of that. All over sounds.
Today, let yourself hear sounds with acceptance.
Exercise non-choice, by leaving the radio off, keeping the earbuds in your pocket, not watching television while you eat, and notice all the sounds around you. Notice how there are sounds behind the sounds that are most easily heard.
Notice how none of them are inherently bad, they just trigger things inside of us and we create stories that make them bad.
The noise is neutral, see what it sounds like when we let it stay that way.
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I write, podcast and make videos about living in freedom through mindfulness, intentionality, compassion, and equanimity.
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