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Is it my imagination, or is the world getting noisier?
At theÂ Southeastern ConferenceÂ ballgameÂ last weekend, I sat on the edge of my seatÂ trying to stop my teeth from chattering to the beat of music blaring from the Jumbotron.Â
I wouldnâ€™t called it music exactly - more like the sound you might get from merging a sonic boom and the whinny of a horse being shocked by 1,000 volts of electricity.Â What kind of instrument is making that screeching sound, anyway?
Add 50,000 cowbells, and you have a mind-numbing experience which can propel theÂ decibelÂ level from zero to 500 inÂ three seconds. and stirÂ the crowd into a frenzy.Â
Itâ€™sÂ exciting once a week, but when added toÂ the daily clamor ofÂ ear-splitting car alarms, predawn street cleaners, ubiquitous leaf-blowers, wailing sirens, andÂ insistent chain saws, I yearn for a sound-proofed booth inÂ which to catch a moment of blessed silence.
Even birds are chirping at the top of their lungs just to be heard above the sounds and the furor.
At exactly 4 p.m. every afternoon, some guy rides by my house with his rap musicÂ thumping like bombs bursting in air.Â The panes in my windows rattle and I expect vases to begin bursting.Â If I had a pacemaker, it would automatically shut down! Is that really necessary?
Starting from the momentÂ weâ€™re jolted awake in the morning by the harsh beeping or clanging of the alarm clock, noise is part ofÂ our day.Â In fact, I may have become addicted to it.Â While tooling around in my home or car, the soundtrack of my life is the constant droning of satelliteÂ newsÂ where hosts and guests rudely interruptÂ and talk over each other.Â Â
Iâ€™ve tried cutting off the squawk boxes, but becomeÂ terrified that Iâ€™m going to miss late breaking news.Â Iâ€™ll never forget thatÂ Â day in September of 2001. I hadÂ became so sick of the news that I cut off the television and took a bubble bath while two jetliners flew into the World Trade Center.Â Iâ€™m afraid to become disconnected again.
I bought some ear plugs just to refresh my memory on what silence sounds like.Â It was a dismal failure because my mind took over and began its infernal buzzÂ which went like this: Sew up split tightsÂ before I getÂ kicked out of health club; send a belated birthday card to Barbara whose birthday was six weeks ago; Â clean out vehicle to see whatâ€™s causing that yucky smell; throw out deadÂ schefflera which is molting on bedroom floorâ€¦yada, yada, yada.
It goes on ad nauseam until Â I am exhausted and depressed.Â A jack hammer would be a welcome diversion.
I woke up today with an urge to grabÂ a guitar and play that wonderful song by Simon and GarfunkelÂ â€“ â€śThe Sound of Silenceâ€ť from the 1960sÂ movie â€śThe Graduate.â€ťÂ Unfortunately, I donâ€™t own a guitar and canâ€™t play one anyway.Â But some days, we just need to turn the quiet up.
Emily Jones is a retired journalist who edits a website for bouncing baby boomers facing retirement.Â She welcomes comments at www.deludeddiva.com.View more articles in: