There was a time, when I was younger, when I could not sit at home in silence. I had to have either the TV on, or the radio/stereo/entertainment system; or both at the same time.
Well, both at the same time I haven’t done in a while, but there was a time, probably before I was married for the first time. Having a wife definitely requires you pay some attention.
I did not know why I had such a need for stimulation, but I was able to listen to music, watch a TV show and actually do my homework or read a book as a teenager, all at the same time. Now I can’t write a sentence if the TV is on. Music is ok when I write, but it has to be low key and low volume music. I guess the older I get my stress tolerance has diminished.
Sometimes lately I will turn off the TV if there is nothing interesting on, even if I am doing something like cleaning the house or cooking or working on a home improvement project. All of those used to require a steady flow of really loud music, especially when I vacuumed. Now I just do it in silence and enjoy the quiet.
Part of it came from work, as part of my job I sometimes have to work in an empty apartment. I had a boss a couple of years ago that had this giant industrial boom box tuned to K-Rock and cranked up all the way that he dragged to every job. That along with the sound of power tools, air compressors and hammering can really raise your stress levels.
It was peaceful, doing something quiet like hanging light fixtures or installing appliances and hearing birds outside or even traffic noise from the street; almost like meditation. Of course, sometimes you have to work with others, and with the hand held devices available now that can be a problem.
There’s the kid with hip-hop blaring from the Galaxy in his shirt pocket, the contractor with a giant boom box like my old boss, but the worst I ever encountered was a plaster man who would play comedy podcasts on his iPhone. Thank god somebody stole his iPhone.
“No comedy today, Warren?”
“Some bastard copped my iPhone.”
“That’s too bad, Warren.”
It’s like meditation, but it’s not actual meditation. I’ve tried that too, and I don’t think I’ll ever get the hang of “clearing my mind” or concentrating on my “third eye” or even praying. So I just think about the task at hand, and that can be pretty peaceful too.
My wife feels much the same way about it- that’s a good thing; it wouldn’t do for her to want to listen to music while I don’t.
We’ve started “writing time”, where we shut off the TV and turn off the stereo and sit and write, or sometimes read, she at her computer, me at mine, a true modern family, two people sitting next to each other and lost in our own little creative worlds. But at least we’re close enough to reach out to one another if we need a reassuring touch.