JUDITH BERRY: Something desired

  • Thursday, September 12, 2013

Is it me or what? This world has become a noisy place.


I don’t remember being so disturbed by noise in years past. Everywhere I go, there is noise. Many restaurants have music blasting so that one can’t even have a decent conversation. Never mind television; the commercials are not only stupid but loud, many of the sitcoms are loud with a lot of carrying on. Some movies have background music or sounds that you can’t even hear what the actors are saying. No, I don’t have a hearing problem, and yes, I can turn the volume off on the television.


Recently, I was weeding out a lot of paperwork that I kept over the years and found this article. The paper was yellow with age, and I don’t remember why I saved it. It must have spoke to the time I saved it, so what else is new?


Desiderata (Latin: Something desired)


“Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become bitter or vain, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, graceful surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.”


Dated 1692, from the wall of Old St. Paul’s Church in Baltimore.


Think about the date on this article. No cars, planes, or sirens and yet the writer was obsessed with noise. We all have become so used to it that we don’t even hear some of it.


One of the college writing courses I took dealt with the five senses. We were to get up in the wee hours of the morning and write about our hearing sense. It was amazing. Everyone in the household was sound asleep, and yet I heard so many things that I wouldn’t have normally heard. For example: The hot water heater in the basement was rumbling, my husband was snoring, one of the children had a coughing spell, the wind outside was making the big oak tree creak and acorns were dropping on the roof. I heard the toilet flush in the upstairs bathroom, the house itself creaked, the grandfather clock was ticking and gonged 3 a.m., one of the cats knew I was up so came into the room and meowed.


All noise, but sometimes we don’t hear a thing. As I write this, I hear someone outside using a blower, I hear a siren in the distance, a plane just went over, the tap, tap of my keyboard, the furnace just turned on, a dog is barking and so it goes.


You’ve all heard the expression “silence is golden.” We need more of it in our daily lives.


In the Bible there is a verse that says something like going into the closet to pray. I think that means that in a closet we block out most of the noises of the world so we can communicate with our creator. We can hear the still small voice of God that comes from within us. It also meant to not be pompous and let other people know you think you are so pious, but do your praying where no one will see you.


So no matter what the times are that we live in, we do need silence in our lives. Silence is a time to reflect and get our wits in order.


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