Silence: It’s Golden. And Quiet…Very Quiet.


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The above picture was taken about 5 minutes from our house, but you would never know it because there is not a soul around for what seems like miles and miles. Taos is a different kind of place, as on one side you have what is basically the desert – flat land, no water, sagebrush growing everywhere. And on the other side of town, you have canyons and Carson National Forest – tons of trees, grass and water. It is quite a dichotomy, really. But my favorite part of both sides of town is the silence – I have never experienced silence like this, and it has taken some getting used to. We are so used to traffic, blaring horns, booming stereos and just a general buzz that when we got here and tried to fall asleep the first couple of nights, we couldn’t! Now, however, I feel like I am getting some of the best sleep of my life, and for the first time in forever I am waking up feeling refreshed. Seems that noise pollution in Los Angeles was really bad for me!

Studies have proven that noise pollution can be incredibly damaging to your health – even the noise you don’t notice in your day to day life. Constant exposure to noise increases your production of cortisol, the “fight or flight” hormone. And while we need that hormone when our life is really in danger, it is not healthy when “on” all the time. Over time, it can corrode the body, eat away at blood vessels and other organs and predispose a person to other medical woes. “This is the most disturbing thing about noise, because it means you are being exposed to this reaction all the time,” said Roberto Bertollini of the World Health Organization’s Special Programme on Health and Environment.

Don’t think you are being subjected to noise on a daily basis? Check out the decibel levels of things you are subjected to almost every day:

“Quiet” home: 20 dB
Normal talking: 40 dB
Ringing telephone: 60 dB
Air conditioner: 75 dB
Heavy traffic: 90 dB
Honking horns: About 100 dB

So even if you think you are in a “quiet” house, you are still being subjected to noise of some sort. But moving here has really shown us what quiet is…the other day I was out at the Rio Grande park, and I was laying on a bench about 1 mile from the parking lot. I had walked all the way out there and there was not another person around at all. As I was laying there, I started hearing this “swooshing” sound, and I could not even guess what it was. But when I opened my eyes to look around, the noise was coming from the hawks that were flying down into the gorge and back out again….it was phenomenal.

I was hearing the swooshing of the wings of these giant birds; it was that quiet out there. It’s amazing how some quiet time really lets you relax – something I never really did (at least not to this extent) in California. It simply was never this quiet there. It gives you time to think, time for your body to regenerate, time for your muscles to relax, and it is probably very healthy for your mind. If you don’t live somewhere very quiet, try to find a spot that will be quiet for an extended period of time – I am sure it will do you some good. Being in Los Angeles I never realized how much noise I was subjected to, and now I live somewhere that I can hear the wings of a bird flying overhead. Things are good, and now I appreciate the quiet life…something I never thought I would be able to do.

So how about you? Do you live somewhere that the noise drives you crazy? Or have you found your spot of silence? Let me know in the comments!

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  1. We live in a suburb of Stockholm, Sweden and every time friends who live in the city come to visit us they remark on how quiet and peaceful it is. Yes! Love that about it! We have lots of seagulls around (we’re about a 5-minute walk from the Baltic); don’t think I’d be able to hear them swooping, however. 🙂

  2. Hi David — Ahhhh, the sounds of silence. It sounds (no pun intended) wonderful. I am fond of quiet as well. Any idea what kind of hawks they were? Were they mostly soaring or flapping their wings? Huge, mostly black guys with some grey underneath? I’m guessing they were TVs (turkey vultures), but I would beinterested to know. Can you get a photo of one?

  3. Lynnae, I cannot wait to see pics of your property. And if we are running parallel, I better get a move on buy something! 😉

  4. It seems you and I are living parallel lives these days. Last Thursday I was out at the home we’re buying for the inspection. While the inspector was under the house, I was sitting on the deck waiting for him, when I realized how quiet it was. In the distance I heard a horse and the occasional car, but that’s it. It was wonderful! Can’t wait until we move in!

  5. I have always been aware of noise, or its absence. One example: in the office where i work the flush of the toilets in the restroom is so loud that I must hold my ears each time i flush. Really. I guess management doesn’t want clogs.

    I can also point to examples of what you can hear when there is an absence of noise.

    Example: I still remember with wonder when i watched 2 fawns gallop around my backyard, repeatedly. I could hear the sound of their hooves pounding the earth.

    And, all summer long, i love the sound of the hummingbird wings when it comes to visit the feeder outside my screened porch.

  6. I think that even if someone lives in a city or a noisier town, there are plenty of ways to get closer to that silence, as well.

    One is for people to let go of the idea that they need to have music or TV or something else on all of the time. Or not having the stereo on when you’re driving, for a bit. Or turning off the cell phone unless you really need it. These are very simple things that everyone can do to bring silence into their lives, and I highly encourage giving it all a try.

    Silence is the thing that keeps me sane, really. I grew up with a great appreciation for it, and am able to get tastes of it even in a place like L.A.

  7. Oh man, we had the air show taking place pretty much directly over our house this weekend. Now we’re back to our regularly scheduled program of constant lawnmower buzz (really, I wish there was a rule about only mowing on one or two days a week, and I wish everyone used a quiet electric mower). I can certainly attest to noise pollution’s effects on health. I feel wound up all the time. It’s exhausting. When I do have the luxury of being someplace silent, I feel like a new person.

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