The other day, I needed to pick up a parcel from the post office. Usually they deliver it to the outlet closest to me, but for some reason they dropped it at the kyosk in the mall. I'm not really a mall fan. Never was I the type of person to 'hang' out at the mall. To be honest, I don't even know what this would entail. Loitering by the food court? Window shopping? Bumping into small children and laughing when they fall down? Watching men being dragged into fancy underwear shops?
There are a lot of reasons I don't like the mall, but, for the most part, it's because I don't like to shop, unless it's kitchy or weird or antique. Also, I'm not a fan of people. I mean, large groups of people. A large group being anything over three bodies, especially if they are persons unknown to me.
Essentially, my apprehension to crowds comes down to two things.
1. I feel it increases the chances of being shot at random.
2. I think if there's a natural disaster I'll end up getting trompled to death trying to do the right thing.
Everyone knows people run when things go awry. It's almost as if the fight or flight doesn't exist in the majority of people. Most of us only think one thing: flight, flight, flight. Don't get me wrong, I understand my reasons for disliking the mall make me sound a bit on the lunatic side.
Alright, now that we've established I don't like malls. That's where I needed to go on Saturday, you know, to pick up my parcel. As I traisped through the second floor, I stopped at the mall map to figure out where I was going, because I didn't even know it had a post office. Right then, I noticed the beginnings of a headache. A ever-so-slight throbbing in my temple. And then, stepping back from the map, I took a look around and realized how noisy it was.
Music blarred over the mall speakers, each individual store played their own radio stations, the game shop had people testing out some video game on Playstation, people talked, parents yelled, and I physically recoiled. Even worse, it was more than the sounds. The noise extended beyond my ears. There were things to touch and see. Smells of food, perfume and cleaning supplies. All of my senses became entranced by the racket around me.
Then, the age old saying "it's so loud I can't hear myself think" popped into my head.
That's when I started mulling over all this noise we surround ourselves with. The noise we purposely inflict on ourselves. The noise that not only prevents us from hearing ourselves think, but which stops us from hearing our hearts.
It's gotten to the point where we are completely surrounded by noise at all times. People get home from work and turn the television on, the computer, the radio, the X-Box. Before they take their shoes off and hang up their jacket, they are checking their email, setting up the recording on their PVRs and texting a friend.
The truth is, we are all plugged in. Everyday we fill ourselves up with music, movies, advertisements on television, and our own voices. I know a lot of friends and family members who can't sit down and simply exist for a few minutes without some sort of noise, whether audible or visual. We are walking, talking examples of the marketing that surrounds us. Ask someone the Kit-Kat slogan or the McDonalds jingle and nine times out of ten they will be able to say it for you. I know I can.
All the technology filling our lives, all the chatter and pointless comments, I see it for what it is - a distraction.
Part of me takes these distractions at face value. Something to do to stave off boredom. To keep us entertained.
But there's this other side of me that thinks these distractions are a way of preventing us from opening our eyes and actually seeing the word. It stops us from hearing our instincts. The information we absorb from the programs, adverts, and radio can be filtered through us without our knowledge. People drown out the televison, thinking they aren't paying attention, but these images and sounds are going into our bodies. Every webpage we click on has links and ads for products. We don't think we see them, but we do.
And what are the consequences?
There was a time when I allowed myself to be distracted by pretty, shiny technology. If I watched television, played video games, enjoyed a rousing game of Text Twist on the intersnacks, then I didn't have to reflect on myself. I didn't have to see the state of the world. I didn't have to confront my misery, because I wasn't aware of it. I didn't have to consider my path - or how far off my path I truly was. I didn't have to ask myself the hard questions like...
Do I love myself?
Is this how I want the world to be?
After I left the mall and started walking home, I wondered what all the distractions were for.
Why does the world keep making things louder, brighter, and bigger? Billboards are shoved in our faces. Images assult us when we walk down the street. They have televisions at the dental office and in the waiting room at the doctors. We have mini-computers attached to our hands through our phones. Mp3 players are constantly plugged into our ears. Buses have advertisements on them. You can't sit in a public place without being bombarded with smells, sounds, images and human interactions.
It reminded me of when I was a child and the nurse used to hold up a toy to distract me when I got a shot.
Are we all being distracted while something bigger is happening to us? Because I look around at the state of the world and can't help but believe that's exactly what's going on. A distracted public is a controlled public.
As a whole, it feels like our priorities are completely skewed. We avoid self reflection. We neglect what the world needs. Heck, we ignore our own base human need which is love. We are focused on concerts, sporting events, festivals, celebrity deaths and what new shows will be airing in the fall, all the while turning a blind eye to the atrocities going on around us. Ignorance truly is bliss. But you know what else is bliss? Freedom from being distracted. Being in the know. And understanding who you are and where you're going.
Silence is a beautiful thing. It's refreshing. Cleansing. Sometimes I lie on my bed, turn everything off and listen to nothing except the beat of my heart. It's these moments I feel most at peace, because I'm not bogged down by the drone around me. Without the constant chatter, I'm afforded the luxury of being able to love freely. It's not so hard to love mankind when it isn't so noisy. I get this when I'm out in nature. Which, I think, is why I'm so drawn to the forest and rolling hills of grass. Because the silence in these places allow me to become the girl I'm supposed to be.
A lot of people don't know this, but I have a thing for Aldous Huxley. I think he was leaps and bounds ahead of his time. A truly kindered spirit, which I think you can see through is work, but also through his life. There's a quote of his that has always stuck with me. Partly because I am a massive music nerd and also because it reminds me of the importance of silence. I will end this blog by saying, sometimes we need to press the off button, and here is Huxley's quote:
After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.