“As much as I love hearing about Chinese New Year, do you mind if I close your door?”, a colleague asked me the other day.
I was editing some material for a project I’ve been working on, and I guess the sounds of fire crackers and drums emanating from my office had eventually gotten to her.
Even though I have an office, I keep the door open most of the time, except for those confidential meetings. I was totally oblivious to the fact I was slowly, maddeningly driving her up the wall.
Some people thrive in an open-plan, others hate it. For the most part I’ve always enjoyed open-plan. Working in radio, I’ve become accustomed to writing and thinking with noise in the background. I can even do this when there are multiple sources of noise. It’s something I guess my brain has learned to live with.
I’m reminded of being in Estonia a few years ago and watching a television program which was simultaneously dubbed into Estonian and Russian, as well as the original English, and it was if the Estonian and Russian didn’t exist, because I could only hear the English. It’s interesting how the human brain can filter out different noises.
The brain can also focus in on a particular noise. For example, the sound of the exhaust fan in my bathroom almost drives me insane. It’s not like it’s the sound a jumbo jet about to take off, it’s just that the sound occurs at a particular frequency that gets inside my brain. Years ago, I recall asking Damien one day if he’d left the exhaust fan in the en-suite on, to which he replied “I don’t think so”. He couldn’t hear it, but I could. Weird eh?
But sometimes I, too, need a “sound break”. Today, for example, was my “sound break day”. After a few intense weeks I needed a day of not talking to anyone, and not having the sound of a radio or television rumbling in the background. In short, some time for my brain to “re-set” itself.
Even though I live in an inner city location, close to some major roads, I live in a pretty quiet street where the sound of traffic is usually just a distant rumble. However, it was at about eight o’clock when the traffic started to get noisy. And then the leaf blower started. And then in the back laneway, they started to pull down a tree and throw it in the shredder.
I quickly realised that was the end of my day of silence, and so I turned on the television and watched the first two episodes of the second series of “Smash”.