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  • StevenF

Quiet

Disclaimer: Any opinions I write about here are my own and do not necessarily represent those of Meow Wolf, the company for which I work.


There is a song in the musical Matilda that encapsulates what I feel much of the time in life:


...when everyone shouts - they seem to like shouting -

The noise in my head is incredibly loud,

And I just wish they'd stop, my dad and my mum,

And the telly and stories would stop just for once.


I'm sorry - I'm not quite explaining it right,

But this noise becomes anger, and the anger is light,

And its burning inside me would usually fade,

But it isn't today, and the heat and the shouting,

And my heart is pounding, and my eyes are burning,

And suddenly everything, everything is...


Quiet...

Like silence, but not really silent...

Just that still sort of quiet

Like the sound of a page being turned in a book,

Or a pause in a walk in the woods.


Quiet...

Like silence, but not really silent...

Just that nice kind of quiet,

Like the sound when you lie upside down in your bed.

Just the sound of your heart in your head...


And though the people around me,

Their mouths are still moving,

The words they are forming

Cannot reach me anymore.


And it is quiet...

And I am warm...

Like I've sailed

Into the eye of the storm...


I love quiet. Crave it, actually.


This world gets too noisy for me sometimes. I'm not just talking literal sound, either. The noise of the Internet. The noise of social media. The noise of 24-hour television and streaming. Like, it all just gets to be a bit much, doesn't it?


I am a true introvert. I don't particularly like parties or crowds or noise or idle chatter. I would much rather sit at home and read a book than go to some nightclub.


When I worked at the MGM Grand, as I would enter the employee entrance, there was a sign posted for the nightclub, Hakkasan. In it, an enormous crowd of wall-to-wall people, bathed in purple light, was dancing, drinking, and having a good time.


It looked like an absolute nightmare to me. I could just imagine the claustrophobia, the obnoxious drunks, the ear-splitting thonk-thonk-thonk of techno music combined with party-goers shouting at each other just to hear each other.


Not my scene at all.


Last night as one of my coworkers and I were walking to the employee parking lot, we passed by an area of Area 15, where Omega Mart, where we work, is housed. This particular area of Area 15 that we passed is a venue for special events like concerts, dances, and raves. The music they were playing last night was so loud, it felt like my skull was vibrating. So unpleasant. And we weren't even inside the actual venue. How can people stand to be in there?


But we're all different. Some people thrive on that energy. Not me. Often, my favorite part of a party I'm hosting is when the last guest leaves and nothing remains but the stillness of the house.


It's not that I'm antisocial or anything. But I much prefer one-on-one conversations (or one-on-three) to crowd situations. Any more than five or six other people, and I start to get a bit agitated. I just can't tolerate a lot of noise at once, and it seems to get more intolerable as I get older.


Funny then that I have often worked at venues where there are crowds of loud people. But somehow it's different because even though I am among them, I feel like I am separate from them unless I am dealing with a guest one-on-one.


But the Omega Mart attraction is loud, and there are times when I find the noise annoying, especially if I am trying to communicate something to a guest or coworker, and the noise is inhibiting my ability to do so.


There are areas in Omega Mart where there are competing noises. When I very first started working there, it took me a bit of time to get used to it. Now I have kind of tuned it out, although admittedly, some of it is hard to tune out.


I preface this next comment by saying I carry no judgement over my husband's choice in entertainment. He is free to watch whatever makes him happy, but he and I are different when it comes to quiet, and so the things he enjoys are sometimes not my cup of tea. But to each his own.


For example, he enjoys watching The Real Housewives of Atlanta. I don't care for it because it often just seems to be a bunch of women yelling at each other about things that feel so inconsequential and trivial. And I know, it's reality TV, and that's what the reality TV-loving folk want to see: conflict and drama.


But I don't.


Isaias also likes to watch the little video clips on Tik Tok, which seems like a social media platform designed specifically to annoy someone like me. It's like if you were watching television and someone was constantly changing the channel over and over and over again. And for someone who is much more interested in long-form videos, the brevity (and often, shallowness) of these mini-clips is just not designed for my brain.


I think one of the things that drives me most crazy about Tik Tok is that the video just keeps playing on a loop until the viewer moves on to the next one. I remember one time when Isaias was in the shower, his phone randomly started playing a Tik Tok video over and over and over and over again until I finally located his phone and shut it off.


But I also don't fault Isaias (or anybody, really) if Tik Tok entertains or informs them. More power to you if that's your thing. But it definitely isn't mine.


Isaias once asked me to join Tik Tok. I told him it'll never happen. All the things I disliked about Facebook are compounded a thousand times more with Tik Tok.


And really, that is the reason I left Facebook: just too much noise. The ads. The trolls. The arguments. The constant Facebookiness of Facebook. It just became too much. And it was feeling like a mentally negative time-waster to me.


It's the same with the media. It all just becomes all too overwhelming. All these voices spouting their various versions and takes on what is going on in the world. All the commentators, pundits, and talking heads adding their two cents and which seems to do more to conflate, provoke, rile up, and divide than it does to actually inform.


It's tiring.


The other day I was sitting home alone. I had Spotify synced up with our Christmas tree. It was playing some very relaxing classical piano music, and I was reading a book with Blondie snuggled up against me, and I just thought, "This is heaven."


There are people out there who seem to be afraid of quiet, people who feel like they have to speak or share every waking thought that comes into their head. Or people who feel they have to fill the space with noise when maybe it would be okay to just let silence fill that space. (Maybe that's another reason I'm kind of tired of all these social media platforms—because they've made us so narcissistic as a society and so reliant on instant gratification (he says as he writes in his publicly-accessible blog).)


But I also have to recognize that we are all different. Not everybody is wired the way I am wired, nor should I expect them to be.


There are a couple of coworkers at Meow Wolf (neither in my specific department) who are sometimes in the break room at the same time as I am. One of them is a very extroverted person who just kind of blurts out whatever is on her mind. She seems a nice enough person, but if I'm trying to read or eat quietly, her constant chatter does get on my nerves. It's a public break room, however, so she has as much right to talk as I have the right to enjoy my break in solitude.


But maybe she needs that social contact. I do get the sense that all is not well in her home life, so maybe this is her time when she can talk to people. Maybe she needs someone to listen to her.


The other employee is a woman who has loud Facetime conversations with someone whom I assume to be her daughter. These conversations distract me, but I also have tried to put myself in the employee's shoes. Here she is working hard to support her young child, and maybe these moments with her are precious to her. And like I said, it's a community break room, so why should my preferences trump hers, especially if this is some quality time she can get with her kid.


Still, I have taken to retreating into the employee locker room, where it tends to be more quiet,


I remember another time when I worked at the MGM, several coworkers and I were waiting to be fitted for new wardrobe pieces, and two particularly talkative coworkers were just prattling on about this and that, and I actually had to start meditating to kind of shut the noise out.


But this world isn't mine alone. I share it with all of humanity. And some of my fellow humans like, and maybe even need, noise.


But I relish silence. I really do. Even right now, sitting here in the quiet, with only the clicking of my keyboard, Isaias' faint footsteps in the next room, and the distant sound of an airplane flying outside, this makes me feel calm in a world that has become increasingly too noisy for me.


Quiet. I love it.


What about you? What are your thoughts about noise and silence? What kind of person are you? How do you like to unwind? Feel free to share in the comments below.

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