Wednesday, February 27, 2008

constant noise

I couldn't calm my thoughts today so I decided to go take a walk. I headed up into the hills, where I used to take hikes when I was in high school.

The sun was just starting to come down into the bay, all golden and bursting in the water. It was a little hazy and the skyscrapers in San Francisco rose in silhouettes out of the white glare. And above me it was all clear, long sheets of clouds, blue sky, green hills, Mt. Diablo, The Golden Gate.

I stood up at the top of the hill, where I could look out for miles in every direction, where I was alone above everything, and I listened. First I could hear the whoosh of the freeways, constant as river rapids on all sides of me, then there was a train whistle and then another. I concentrated, and another layer of sound came to the surface - the chirping and idling of bugs, the croaking of frogs, wings scraping together, leaves rustling. I could hear the individual songs of birds, and if I looked out at any time, I could find an airplane somewhere in the sky, and I would try to peel it's humming away from the rest of the cacophony.

I'm so used to tuning it all out, but there is a constant noise that is always around us. I once heard a segment on NPR where a guy figured out the pitch of the notes that all the appliances in his apartment were humming, and he then figured out the chords they were making together. How happy can you be when a minor or diminished chord or something even more atonal is buzzing all around you night and day?