Saturday, May 19, 2007


From Wednesday night....

Callan is asleep (in bed, lights out, fading fast), Nolan is fed (several spoonfuls of rice cereal that ended up mostly on his bib and his seat), Melissa is grocery shopping (weaving through the crowds of twentysomethings clogging the isles at Macey’s) and I am enjoying a little quiet time in front of my laptop. Quiet seems a scarce resource, and not entirely a welcome one. Sure, I like my “peace and quiet,” but just quiet—there are few things more irritating than an unsettled quiet. Quiet must always be accompanied by peace to be inviting. The quiet in our home when my wife and I are upset at each other, or the quiet in a stadium after the home team loses, or the quiet in a room when you pass gas, or the quiet of a dark street in an unfamiliar neighborhood--these are quiets I could do without. The un-peaceful quiet can be suffocating, the audio equivalent of a stuffy room. When I find myself stuck in un-peaceful quiet, I must find the radio, usually NPR.

Radio and Television have sedated the sufferers of un-peaceful quiet for decades. My own father could not work without the television on. I remember carrying the television around the house for him—into the bathroom while he replaced shower tiles; into the garage while he fixed our Buick’s transmission; into the living room while he lay sick on the couch. When Most of the local radio stations tout their ability to “help you get through the workday,” suggesting that many of us work in an unpeaceful quiet. How many of us spend the day in an office, or a job site, or in a car, surrounded by a quiet we can’t bear. Landscapers, carpenters, delivery drivers, factory workers, office workers all turn on their radio for the comfort of sound.

Good quiet, the quiet of a forest, the early morning quiet of a neighborhood, the quiet on the freeway on Christmas morning, the quiet in a home just before bed, the quiet of restaurant, the quiet of sleep, can be the most pleasant kind of noise.