A Quiet Space

June 25, 2016


Life is noisy. There's all sorts of noise pollution around, and--like me--you probably contribute to it more than you realize. Once your neighbour starts blasting loud music, you may feel that gives you the license to be noisy whenever you want. When the person next to you on the train starts talking loudly on their phone, your reaction is likely to turn up the volume on your mp3 player. And the noise seeps into our brains and stays there, often longer than it's welcome. I feel like there are two soundtracks in my head; one that I want to be there, with all the music that matches the mood I'm in and thoughts that flow naturally, and a second soundtrack that is made of annoying songs that are stuck in there, jammed in like a piece of food wedged between my teeth, as well as nagging comments complaining about the outside noise I'm hearing. 


In Yoshi's Paintbrush, the character Zippy asks "Why is there so much thought pollution?"


For those fed up with noise, I've heard people recommend meditation and also relaxation techniques, such as imagining you are in a quieter place. I think those are all excellent ways to cope, but I would like to offer one more. Sometimes, we can think of the noise we don't like as reminders to appreciate what we do have. We might not have quietness, a perfect serene space like the one in the picture, but there is value in being where you are right now.


When I hear someone speaking loudly on the phone, I could choose to think of how fortunate I am to be in a country where there is freedom of speech and people are not afraid to have conversations in public. When I hear the train's speakers asking me to mind the gap, I could choose to think of how fortunate I am to live in a place where public safety is highly regarded. When I hear someone else's music playing I could choose to think of how fortunate I am to live in a place where technology is easily available and makes life more enjoyable. ...And when I hear the horns honking on the street outside my apartment, I'll meditate and pretend I'm in the place that photo shows (which is from a chapel I visited in Germany). 

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