Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Sound of Silence

Paul Simon once said, "The main thing about playing the guitar, though, was that I was able to sit by myself and play and dream. And I was always happy doing that. I used to go off in the bathroom, because the bathroom had tiles, so it was a slight echo chamber. I'd turn on the faucet so that water would run — I like that sound, it's very soothing to me — and I'd play. In the dark. 'Hello darkness, my old friend / I've come to talk with you again'."

That line, 'Hello darkness, my old friend / I've come to talk with you again', you may recognize from Simon and Garfunkel's hit The Sound of Silence. I've always liked that song. I see it as a sort of protest against this world's lack of communication skills.

Today the noise (not the communication-- there's a huge difference) won't stop and I love quiet. I know many people like to play the radio or a certain type of music or even a certain artist when they create. I'm rarely one of those people. Once in a blue moon, when I can't bear to be alone with my thoughts, I'll put on a quiet movie and play it quietly while I work. The rest of the time I'd rather it be quiet, though it's frequently not. (Football is the 2nd worst noise in the universe. Go ahead, watch it. But do we have to listen to it?)

I know people who can't even sleep without a radio or TV on. I can't sleep with them on. I never could. I think I'm afraid I'll miss something.

But because of this day's constant noise I began to wonder how much we need silence. Is it good for creativity? I didn't look long, but I found nothing.

Still, I need it. I need space to think, to hear myself, to detox, to breathe. In this noisy, fast-paced world, silence, stillness and space are vital to my creativity. Here's a weird tidbit. If I had to lose one of my five senses, it would be hearing, hands down.

What about you? What do you need to be creative?


  1. Hmm. I'm one of those people who works with noise. I've always attributed it to needing to occupy both sides of my brain. One side is focused on the things I create, and almost everything I create is tiny and intricate (very left brain). The other side needs to be occupied, though, and for that I have the TV on with a movie or something else I like. It drives my husband nuts that I can read a book and watch a movie at the same time and know what's going on in both.

    That being said, I agree that if I had to lose one of my senses it would be hearing. Luckily, I'm fluent in sign language. I know it would still take years to fully adapt to the loss of sound. I'd just have to figure out some other way to occupy the other side of my brain.

  2. Interesting! I realize oin reflection that I'm more likly to want noise when I'm stringing and silence when I'm weaving. Perhaps weaving occupies most of my brain . . .

  3. Hrmmm. I like to listen to audio books while I'm working. I tolerate the tv in the background, though today I thought I'd expire from Football Poisoning! Those announcers can use clich├ęs like no one I've ever heard.

    If I get to a really difficult place in my work, I prefer silence.

  4. Normally, I only listen to the tv or radio or something when I feel the need to have people around me. Otherwise, I have silence all around me.

  5. Great story! I usually turn on LMN movies when I'm creating jewelry, however when I'm on the computer I prefer silence!

    Your post really hit me - I loved Simon & Garfunkle - their music is the best!

  6. To work, complete silence. Just the sound of nature out my window.

    Off to bed- I HAVE to zone out to TV, or I'll never shut off the thinking machine!

    Great post!