“What is your favorite sound?”
The song The Sound of Silence, by Simon & Garfunkel, was actually written to suggest that silence is a bad thing, that silence equals oppression, a curtailment of freedom of speech, a lack of free thought. I actually find silence restful. To me it means I don’t have to think, I don’t have to respond, I don’t have to react, I don’t have to be Busy — or, if I am Busy, I can work at my own pace. Sometimes even the gentle sound of classical music is distracting.
Silence is also the sound of reflection, giving you a “breather” in which to reflect on the day, its successes and failures, its discoveries and surprises, its uncharted waters or the progress you’ve made through those waters. Silence is a gift.
It can be the sound of loneliness, especially at 3:00 in the afternoon, when children used to come storming in the door with their homework and their trials and tribulations and victories — at such times, silence reminds you that you are growing towards your own expiration date, as the fledglings you nurtured so carefully have “flown the coop” and are on their own. You’re happy for them. But the silence reminds you how much you miss them.
Or it can be charged with angry feelings, unspoken words, thoughts that are just inexpressible. In music, silence has a dynamic quality all its own, as you wait for it to be resolved in one triumphant or pathetic or anxious or rebellious or triumphant chord.
But if whoever judges these things refuses to admit silence as a sound — it is, despite all its dynamic uses above, defined by the absence of sound — in that case, my favorite sound is the sound of rain pouring down outside by bedroom window. Nothing puts me to sleep faster. And speaking of sleep — it’s been a long day. ‘Night, all!