Words by Sam Haddad
“The brain – is wider than the sky.” Emily Dickinson
“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” Blaise Pascal (both quotes are taken from Silence: In the Age of Noise by Erling Kagge)
I remember the first time I heard silence. Or what my five-year-old head understood to be silence anyway. I was alone in a room. There was no music, no tv, no video games or voices but I could hear the sound of nothingness so loudly it felt like it was blasting through my ears. I couldn’t handle it; I ran downstairs to be with my family.
For most of my childhood and early adulthood I probably fled from that intense quiet as much as I could. Silence was a void, which both scared and bored me in equal measure. I spent a lot of time in loud places with loud friends. And I always listened to music, while reading, walking, working; even going to sleep. Until I became a parent of noisy young children, I’m not sure I ever sought out silence at all.
“We live in the ‘age of noise’ where ‘silence is a luxury we should seek out, not to mention a crucial rite of passage.”
The Norwegian polar explorer and writer Erling Kagge shared that silence-hating sentiment as a child. But he now feels we live in the “age of noise” where “silence is a luxury” we should seek out, not to mention a crucial rite of passage. He says: “When I was a kid, I hated silence. Silence was when I didn’t have someone to play with or I was waiting for something or I was bored, but today as a father to three teenage daughters, they don’t know what silence is. They don’t experience it, unless they’re sad. Otherwise they see it as useless. That’s why it’s more important than ever.”