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November 14th, 2019
It’s a curiosity that our world is not more optimized around the issue of sound. There is virtually no thought or effort dedicated to making anything sound proof outside of the industries that rely on recording, like the music industry.
Everything we do produces a sound, and with so many of us up to something, there’s just about always something to be heard, whether that’s traffic on the main road, someone coughing on the floor above or some buzzing sound emanating from an appliance. Finding a quiet space is difficult because it cannot be easily created. For the most part it’s achieved by removing other things, like turning off the music, or by blocking them out, like wearing ear plugs.
In this way, silence has something in common with attention.
We seem to be entering a period marked by wars over our attention. Ads are everywhere, they are incessant, and more and more they seem to be tailored to anticipate our desires, thereby making it more likely that we will spend time and money in ways that we might not necessarily want to.
Regaining a freedom of attention is like chasing silence, it’s a matter of removing distractions, blocking them out, and purposefully going to a place that might be so unfamiliar that it’s uncomfortable: few people can sit alone with themselves for very long.
Attention, like silence, is not something you chase. It’s something you cultivate, something you build, like a recording studio. It doesn’t happen overnight, and it doesn’t happen smoothly. It’s like managing the growth of a garden.
It cannot be forced.
but we can keep the weeds from choking the fruits of our patience.