For most of recorded history, access to music was not always a given. If you lived prior to the late 1800s and you wanted to listen to music, you would need to either play it yourself or go somewhere where music was being played or sung, most likely the neighborhood pub or your church.
The first successful record player was the Victrola that was invented in 1906. That machine changed how we listened to music. With the addition of this machine to one’s home, you could have music playing anytime you wanted. You could now listen to music while doing household chores.
The radio changed things even more, especially once they were small enough to fit into your pocket or placed in the dashboard of your car. Now you can have something always playing in the background, whether that was music or talk radio or the news.
I find it interesting to think about how having some type of sound playing in the background has changed our lives—whether it’s a podcast or music or tv. We often play sound simply to keep us company. It is just there in the background. It becomes noise.
The noise isn’t there for us to focus on, but yet, we turned it on. Noise can be helpful at times. Maybe it is on to filter out the person in the next cubicle or it is there to keep our minds focused on the task at hand. The noise isn’t our focus, but we did make a choice to turn it on.
And that intentional act, to get to choose the noise that fills our air, makes us feel good. It is almost like the noise is ours.
If we are honest with ourselves, it might be because the silence might be too much. Too open ended. Out of control. Threatening. Anything or any voice (in our heads) could come and fill it at any moment. We find (at times) that the silence is terrifying.
But we easily conquer the silence by opening another app, turning on the radio or maybe even the TV.
So, until we actually embrace the silence and deal with what’s there and let it accompany us throughout life, we’ll always need another podcast (or some other noise) to make us feel like we’re still in control.
We see the silence. It’s scary. We fill it. The fear subsides. We feel in control.
And the truly scary part is, there’s always another podcast and more noise if that’s what we want.
Pastor for Care and Community