On my vacation, I spent the majority of the time blissfully artificial noise-free, apart from the faint hum of the generator supplying the island with electricity near the dorm and the same five albums on loop in the restaurant. I was even reminded of it while reading Chuck Palahniuk’s book Lullaby, which while less than riveting for me, repeatedly drew attention to people padding their lives with noise, as if afraid of silence.
I’ve had no real escape from noise in this city, living next to the commuter rail line and two busy roads in three different places, and two households where the TV is left on simply for background noise. Coming back from such calm quiet made it all the more grating. Silence these days is either treated as an enemy or a luxury. People create so much constant noise, filling silent gaps with TV, music, inane chatter on cell phones, even as the byproduct of life like traffic noise.
Ultimately, I think that is the biggest factor that will keep me from living for any significant time in a big city. Silence for me is not a luxury, it is a necessity. If I can’t escape the noise, it begins to wear me down.