The Sound of Silence

“Absolute silence leads to sadness. It is the image of death.”

– Jean-Jacques Rousseau

When I climb into bed at night, I am the type of person who needs some sort of sound: the humming of the fan, a bed time playlist flowing from my Ipod, the dog barking at the wind next door, maybe even some Family Guy on low volume on the television.

Being with sound keeps me from being completely alone with my thoughts, something that has always triggered a deafening sadness in me. At the end of the day, as we close our eyes and attempt to rest our minds enough to drift into a cozy sleep – that’s when the stress and the negative thoughts (at least for me) dig their way to the surface. The things I said but shouldn’t have, the things I didn’t say but should have, the possibilities of the future, the impossibilities of right now, the sound of my own breath, the sound of his, the wondering of how some people go to sleep and never wake up.

But with some sort of sound, I don’t feel quite so alone, and am often able to get to sleep with minimal amounts of depressing thoughts.

The Rousseau quote up there reminded me of a dream I had a few months ago. I’ve actually had a lot of dreams about death, but I don’t see any sort of elaborate meanings lying in those dreams except my fear of our inevitable demise. It’s funny how terrified I am of it, yet I am completely obsessed with blood and gore and writing furiously about the two. Maybe there’s something to be said about that? Hm.

Anyway, this particular dream had me sitting straight up in bed once it had ended, a light coat of sweat on my forehead, my legs tangled up in the sheets, Joe still snoring peacefully next to me.

I was heading down a narrow, icy path, much like if I were a competitor in the Luge. I could feel flakes of ice on my shins as time sped up and everything around me began to blur. I felt as though I were roaring through a conduit where I was allowed to feel for one last time every shiny memory of my life: memories of birthdays, of my parents, of being an only child.

I knew what was coming, but I didn’t have time to be afraid, or to protest. Right before I woke up I was swallowed into a darkness; I mean, a completely unforgiving darkness. I may as well have gone blind, but I hadn’t. The world, my mind, everything had simply been snuffed out. But somehow I knew it had been, as if I were still there, but I wasn’t. But the darkness and the silence were so heavy. Thinking about it now gives me a lump in my throat.

The silence has always depressed me, but that dream instilled something even more traumatizing inside of me. Surrounding myself with all the noise and colors and constant busy-ness of the world helps me to focus only on the beauty of life, and how precious it is.

Sorry to get all morbid over here. But I’d like to know if anyone else feels this way about silence. I do enjoy alone time – very much so – but there always has to be a little something singing to me in the background.

If I ever find myself completely alone (let’s hope this never happens), I’ll have to listen closely to the sound of my own heartbeat, reminding me that there’s no time to be afraid.






Filed under Uncategorized, Writing

14 responses to “The Sound of Silence

  1. I, too, have to fall asleep with some sort of “white noise” in the background; however, when I am awake, nothing nurishes me like absolute silence or as near to it as I can get. I cannot work or think or drive with noise in my ears. I like the peace that silence brings – I close my eyes (ok, not when I’m driving) and let my mind relax. THoughts drift in and out, ideas come, characters speak to me and I can hear them. Sadly, no one else in the house is like me – radios, TVs, ipods, are all necessary evils for the rest of them!

    • Thank you for reading – and I appreciate your comment!

      Yes, closing your eyes while driving may be a bad idea. 😉 But yes, for some, complete silence is a rare gift that helps them to completely focus. I find that my best character/story ideas come while listening to a certain song, or the sound of the vacuum while I’m cleaning, or listening to the cars driving by at night. Everything works as a sort of sound track for me.

      I wish I could fully enjoy complete silence. Since, after all, people claim it is golden.


  2. Your dream sounds like what Near Death Experiencers report, except they usually say that there was a loving, welcoming presence and your dream sounds just plain terrifying. Silence doesn’t scare me. In fact, I often find that I need absolute silence in order to think.

    • Haha! It was pretty terrifying. I’ve seen those shows on the BIO channel, I believe the one I’m thinking of is called, “I Survived…Beyond and Back” and yes, their experience is always so lovely. This makes me think I may be awaiting the fiery pits on the other side. But I don’t deserve it! I swear! Ugh. :/

      The silence that scares me is that silence where you begin to hear a high-pitched sound in your ear, because there are no other sounds to focus on. So I guess it really isn’t silence at all, is it? Right now all I have is the sound of my typing and the low humming of the computer fan, and that’s all I need. It’s just a little something in the background.

      But that death-like silence? Nooooo thank you. But whatever works for you. 🙂

      Thanks for reading. 🙂

  3. The only time I ever experienced true silence was the night I spent with my friends in the country. I guess I was about ten years old because it made quite an impression on me. I was laying there awake, straining my ear for any sound at all, finding none. Suddenly, I was overwhelmed at the nothingness. It seemed to be screaming at me! I don’t know whether my mind was inventing an ominous sound because it didn’t know what else to do, or whether my ears actually started ringing. But my silence-sound wasn’t high pitched, it was low and buzz-like. And it wouldn’t go away! The silence was so loud that I couldn’t go to sleep…

  4. I have no preference either way, silence or not. Only snoring stops me sleeping. Unless I’m already asleep, then I sleep. Its a military thing I have, sleep whenever you can, you never know when you might not have the chance.

    Anyway, the reason I was commenting was to say how good the picture is, of the piano etc. Who is it by?

    Nice post as well, 🙂


    • Thank you for stopping by, Jim! And thank you for serving us, of course. That makes perfect sense, when at any moment you could be forced to wake up and fight for our safety and all. 🙂

      Which picture are you referring to?

    • Ah! Sorry about that, I just realized you were talking about the picture in this post, hehe. In most of the pictures I put on my blog, I include the link from which I got it, so you can simply click on the picture to see where it came from. Not sure of the original artist, but it caught my eye. 🙂

  5. i always have the TV on…either hearing it in the BG not particularly paying attention to it, or attentively watching it at nite. it’s also my “burgler alarm” sshh, don’t tell – (and i’ve never been burgled…so…)…and when i sleep i have a sound machine set to “rain” that an ex girlfriend got me hooked on…but as to falling asleep, i usually think about what i’m gonna cook for tomorrow night’s dinner…or what i’ll order if we’re going out. in short, i use the anticipation of food as my “sheep”. works for me, i sleep like a baby. i don’t think true silence is for me, and maybe it is about death, but i rather think of it as “company”. thought-provoking, interesting read NM. continue…

    • Thank you for your comment, Tony. I wish I could think of simple things like what I’m going to have for lunch the next day. Instead I think about being six feet under. I have some issues! 🙂

  6. aubrey

    The sound of my heartbeat used to scare me. When I was wee, trying to get to sleep was always a trial. I would always hear this thumping, this muffled knocking…and I could not figure out what it was. No amount of night lights or open doors could subdue my fear of this unknown sound. It wasn’t until some time later that I realized that this sound was at its most alarming when I was sleeping on my stomach, with my ear to the pillow. It was my heart that frightened me, that kept me awake at nights.

    • Ah! That sounds very Edgar Allan Poe-ish. The one thing keeping you alive is the one thing that frightened you the most. There’s a poetic sort of feeling to that. Thank you for reading, and sharing! I hope your heartbeat only helps you to drift off to sleep nowadays! 🙂

  7. wordsfallfrommyeyes

    Wow, this was a really thoughtful post. I actually stared at the top picture for AGES. It was so interesting – so so interesting. It was like a cobweb gone mad. And it was so black. I looked at the floor where the black strings are attached to. This is awesome artwork. I just don’t know how they did it.

    But re silence. Yes, you sit on the beach and think, ah yes lovely quiet – but of course there’s the waves. I live near a main road and hear traffic all the time. My sister can’t believe how it doesn’t bother me. But it’s company! I totally get what you’re saying. And as for listening to your heartbeat in the most extreme alone – that was yes, very thoughtful. The pic was perfect.

    • Thank you for visiting, and enjoying. 🙂 Isn’t that picture nuts? It looks like my mind does in those moments when I think too much, and things turn all morbid and black. I enjoy the sound of traffic, too! Yes, it’s company. And company is good. 🙂

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