Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Quiet No More


When I was in seventh or eighth grade, my dad gave me his old clock radio. By today's standards, it really didn't do much. It could play music, show the time, and wake me up via the most annoying buzzer I'd heard up to that point my life. But the absolute best feature was the play timer that would allow me to set the radio to play for up to sixty minutes on demand. I didn't think about it then, but that radio changed the way I dealt with silence for the rest of my life. 

From then until sometime in college, I fell asleep listening to music. The first couple of years, I listened to local top 40 station that featured a disc jockey named Lee Van Sickle. Lee turned me onto a lot of schmaltzy bubblegum rock, but also played the first songs I ever heard by Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, and a few others that became my favorites. Sunday nights were different, featuring a syndicated show by Dr. Demento playing funny songs instead of the regular music. To be honest, Dr. Demento kept me until the radio turned itself off because I wanted to listen to the songs rather than going to sleep.

I had entered a point in my life where I could control what silence I was forced to tolerate. Don't get me wrong, I like the sounds of nature when camping or hiking, but when I'm by myself driving or just hanging out at home, I prefer to fill that silence with music. Over the years I've gone through a variety of ways to carry my music with me from early cassette players, Walkman, DiscMan, a few flavors of iPods, and more. According to iTunes (my program of choice for managing my music collection having tried many others), I have over 25K plus individual selections of sound. I have to say sound because besides music; I have a selection of audiobooks and stand-up comedy that have made its way into my collection over the years. Many of those selections I've had in multiple formats.

From time to time, I examine my motivations behind filling my silences with sound. Is it really because I'm uncomfortable with my own thoughts? Not at all. Music brings more of my thoughts to the forefront especially while I'm doing something mind-numbing. I think that is the way it is for most people. Once, I worked in a factory shipping department; I lasted an entire week. Every day throughout the entire factory, they broadcast music for an hour, so in the morning, then for another hour after lunch. I was told when I asked that management did it to motivate the workers. Maybe if they played for over two hours a day, I might've stayed longer than a week.

As my ankle heals, I can start exercising again and my search for some appropriate music, which I'll listen to through earbuds. So here I am again, all these years later, once again filling silence with something different. Something to lift my soul and inspire me to ignore the discomfort and keep going.


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