Noise is a very quirky creature. I like a little white noise with which to sleep and block out the things that could bother me. But when decibel levels rise above my comfort zone then I can become quite irritated.
Loud trucks on the highway, the cars that drive around the neighborhood going “boom-ba-boom-ba-boom” and all such racket make me long for the spaces where “seldom is heard a discouraging word.” For that matter, I like those places where seldom is heard anything.
I remember those mornings of my youth. I would wake to the mill whistle in our town. One more blast from that steam whistle would blow a bit later just to make sure everyone was up. You could walk to school and perhaps all that could be heard was the faint sound of a chain saw or the whistling of a bird. That was probably 50 years ago. Holy s**t, that seems like such a long time. But that was what a kid heard growing up in a small sawmill town in the East Texas pineywoods.
The funny thing is that I can still go to that town and step outside and hear nothing. No noise whatsoever. It makes me wonder why I have spent my life over the past 25 years living in metropolitan areas. The answer is easy enough. Work. But believe me, I have once again become longing for the peace and quiet of the country and now I have science on my side.
This piece in The New York Times talks of studies indicating high blood pressure and stress can spike from the noise of an ascending jet, and those physiological states can continue for a period afterward. Maybe even scarier was a report by the World Health Organization saying noise is responsible for the loss of “ … one million healthy life years annually as a consequence of noise-related disability and disease.”
One article and one study, of course, is no bellwether of doomsday by noise. It just gives one thought that maybe it wouldn’t hurt to find a little quiet somewhere and perhaps even reciprocate by shutting the **** up.