The other day we went to check out a cafe in a lovely spot on a cliff overlooking the coast of North Cyprus close to Kyrenia. It was a beautiful day, bright sunshine, and the view across the Mediterranean to the Taurus Mountains in Turkey was brilliant.
And what happened? As soon as we sat down, just as another group of four turned up, the owner of the cafe turned on music. I noticed this happen in another restaurant we visited – sat down and on came the music. There are many restaurants we don’t visit simply because there is either loud music playing, or there are huge television screens blaring out programmes.
Why have we become so scared of living with silence? I say “with silence” and not “in silence” because I’m certainly not averse to conversation with others, I love a good natter with the best of them. But I love living with silence, to appreciate the ability to hear clearly birdsong, to appreciate the variations in the wind in this area, but most of all to enjoy the pleasure of silence. No noise. No radio. No TV. No music.
I’ve decided to follow this through into social media. I don’t need to read constant Twitter updates. They’re like noise in words. I simply don’t feel the need to have my time taken up with constant Tweets. They aren’t necessary to my life. They are, in fact, a distraction from my inner life, from creativity and from enjoying life on this lovely planet of ours without distraction.
Similarly, I do not possess an iPad, iPhone or iPod. I don’t want to be owned by a machine, to be beholden to constant phone conversations, or the latest apps or the latest music downloads. To my mind, Apple may be innovative and astounding, but I don’t like their market monopoly, and I find it quite mind-boggling that people are so suckered by the lure of the latest gadget that they’re willing to queue for hours and days to get the latest i offering from Apple.
My conscious decision is to keep my computer in my workroom, to check on e-mails and Facebook in my workroom, and to have a simple mobile phone which is pre-paid so I’m not stuck on expensive and incomprehensible monthly phone plans. To me, it’s like being on a treadmill – you have all sorts of gadgets which cost squillions, which constantly need upgrading so you’ve got the most up-to-date gadget, which cost quids to maintain with contract and download costs so you need to work to be able to afford these money-guzzling monsters.
I have, of course, reached this position after years of listening to non-stop radio, playing non-stop music and feeling that I have to fill my life with sound. Now I feel I’ve gradually been de-cluttering my noisy lifestyle addictions to prune back to a world where silence feels bliss and where I carefully consider what sounds I want in my life.
It’ s not everyone’s choice and I do wonder whether I’ve reached this stage of my life because I’m in my ‘sixties and somewhat out of the rat race. I think I’m moving into an Aphrodite phase where I’m choosing what I love, what nurtures me, how I provide pleasure in my life, and not what other people think is trendy or necessary. But actually I don’t really care what others think. I believe the sound of silence is very precious. It brings us back to ourselves, to living with ourselves, to listening with ourselves, instead of being out there as a refuge from being with ourselves.