Finding Beauty in the Noise
Our kids woke up in the wee hours of the morning. They came running into our room. One of them had started crying due to a nightmare and the other one heard it. After the obligatory consoling, reassuring and re-tucking in that we’ve lived through so many times, my wife and I plopped back into our bed and tried to doze off. Then I heard a distant noise that you aren’t supposed to hear in the middle of the night: a bird chirping.
At this point I realized it was close to sunrise, but still desperately craving that last bit of sleep before the kids bolted into our room again. Every inch of my body wanted to fall asleep immediately. Except I couldn’t.
The bird’s call increased in intensity and started to drive me crazy. It felt like the only thing standing between me and blissful rest. I couldn’t escape it. That’s when I had an idea. What if I actually devoted all of my attention to the sounds coming from this bird? The unique change in pitch, the unpredictable rhythm, the soothing melody. No less than a minute later, I found myself mesmerized by the song and drifting back to sleep.
Looking back on it, I had already decided in my mind to be annoyed with the bird. I defaulted to the idea that I couldn’t sleep because of this auditory distraction. But once I changed my perspective and listened closely, I went down quickly. As it turns out, birdsongs and other sounds of nature may help improve our mental health and personal lives as well. The best insights often come to me when I’m outside and have intentionally left my headphones at home. If you’re someone who has tried meditation and found it impossible, this might be your solution: a simple outdoor walk with nothing in your ears or hands. Just solitude.
People will never run out of options for music, podcasts or audiobooks when walking or driving in the car. We are fortunate to live in a world where entertaining distractions are abundant whenever we want them. However, if you pay close attention, you’ll find that the ambient noise on a beautiful day is often more fulfilling than that new podcast episode. The noise of everyday life might seem mundane on the surface, but it can serve as a powerful way to reconnect with ourselves and find stillness.
Listen to the birds, listen to your thoughts, listen to your breath. Sometimes the best soundtrack comes from the natural world around us.