Something occurred to me today. It occurred to me after I stepped out of the sauna at my gym. I can only tolerate the sauna for short periods of time — mainly because I’m a wuss — but also because there is something unsettling about the seclusion of those four cedar walls. As I stepped out of the sauna & on with my day, I realized I couldn’t really hear the music in my headphones anymore. This doesn’t seem like too alarming of a discovery, but to me it has come to be. The music had gone from all I could hear to a faint rhythm in the distance. The more unsettling thing was that the locker room that I had stepped out into was also silent. or “silent,” I should say.
What I have come to categorize as silent is in fact crawling with noise.
It seems, these days, we are constantly bombarded with noise. The buzzing of a nearby cellphone (or our own), the steady hum of a bathroom fan, a television in the distance, the breaks on a car, the coffee grinder, a radio, the shouts of social media. We are constantly in a state of high alert, because if we aren’t, well then we might miss something. Right? I disagree. I think it’s our lack of solitude that is contributing greatest to the signs we miss. We’re missing the most important messages we need: the messages from ourselves.
What was most surprising to me was how I’ve been exposed to this outside noise for such a long time I stopped recognizing when it was even there. The ladies locker room at the gym (when empty) has always felt silent to me. Until that moment I stepped out of the actual silence of the (now sacred) sauna. The ceiling fan, the pipes, the distant radio, the daily commotion — I was so used to this interference I didn’t even recognize it anymore. This made me wonder how many other “noises” might influence me everyday that I’ve stopped regarding as an influence at all. Once things become ingrained in us, we loose focus. We forget that we’re being swayed, or persuaded, or brainwashed. But, if you think about it, we are. We are constantly facing an uphill battle for the next best thing: having the coolest app, the seasonal outfit, the hot new beverage, the right bod, the perfect picture. I think we have become so focused on becoming the person the noise wants us to be, we’ve lost sight of who we really are — and we don’t even know it. We don’t realize that we’ve shut our real friends (who may live 500 miles away) out because society tells us our “real friends” are there for us everyday. We don’t realize we don’t like the horrible taste coffee leaves in our mouth because if we aren’t holding the Starbucks cup, something is wrong with us. We don’t know that we’d be happier single because single has become synonymous with lonely oaf. We haven’t found the right job because the right job would pay more.
It isn’t healthy to live life this way. Constantly living up to some unattainable expectation you don’t even realize you’re chasing anymore. We have to get away. We have to step outside of the noise. And this is, unfortunately, where you’re on your own. I don’t know how I came to this realization stepping from the cedar floor of the sauna to the chilled tile of the locker room, but the important thing is that I did. You’ll come to realize, some day, that you’ve been living too long beneath the white noise. And once you’ve found your way out I have faith that then, and only then, will you be truly happy. They say the best quality a friend can have is to listen, but maybe once in a while, it’s just as important to turn your receptors off.