After grabbing my monster bag of skittles, I find my seat at the movies, ready to take in the latest James Bond movie. (Love me some Bond)
One of the last screens that I see says, Silence is golden. Or, a polite way of telling me to shut up so everyone could enjoy the movie.
In my life, silence is not always golden. Did you know there is a room that is so quiet, that the most time anyone has ever spent in the quiet room is forty-five minutes. There is no echo, nothing. You can hear your own organs. Creepy.
Too much silence is certainly, not golden. I find that if I’m in the house and there is no music on, my normally positive outlook can slip quick if I’m feeling stressed.
Silence is not golden if you have a puppy. In which case, silence is suspicion for “What are you getting into?”
I thought about silence this morning because yesterday was one of those days. You know, those days where any and every small sound can make you feel irritated, grumpy and frazzled. Mollie the Border Collie was the main perpetrator, scratching the floor of her crate, biting her pen, her squeaky toy and everything in between.
I packed my things and walked to Hooked, my favorite coffee shop, right down the street from where I live.
The hum of the coffee maker, the ambient noise of conversations, it was far from silence, but it was the perfect amount of noise to frame my thoughts, placing me in a state of mind to solve the task at hand.
At night, Jess and I went out for a run. She normally wears her iPod but left it at home. During the run, she commented on the sounds of our feet, the keys jingling and we talked about the sounds you hear at mile 16 of a marathon. If you hear other people struggling, it gets into your head.
I never thought about it, but she is 100% right. If I’m running with a friend and their foot strike is loud, mine starts to match theirs. Same with breathing, If they struggle, you begin to struggle. It’s crucial to be able to control yourself and not be influenced by the sound around you.
Needless to say, I think she’ll be continuing to wear her iPod going forward.
Some days call for the hum of a coffee maker, other times it’s the complete silence on a long run in the mountains or maybe today it’s my favorite Arcade Fire song playing in my headphones. Whatever it is, finding that optimal amount of noise is crucial for me to focused and content.
Some runners need Daft Punk blasting in their ears, while others rely on footfalls and breathing. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different types of music and non-music to see where your comfort level lies.
Two interesting references on silence:
- There is an old episode of This American Life, called Mapping, where Toby Lester mapped out all the ambient sounds in his world and, more importantly, what key they were in. Lester’s theory was based on the notion that certain keys control our emotions. Some make us happy, some sad. Listen here [+]
- Arc’Teryx just released Silence. The world is filled with noise. Make room for silence. Arc’teryx runner Adam Campbell stars in a story with no words. Shot on the streets of Vancouver and the high country around Whistler, Silence is the story of every runner, climber and skier who chases passion rather than the modern world’s trappings. Headphones recommended.