Opinion: Overwhelmed by the noise

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Commentary by Terry Anker 

Driving across the more rural of our environs during the rising of a spectacular harvest moon, one is reminded of the quiet grandeur all around. Big skies, still nights, teeming wildlife and intricately choreographed interconnections, dependent upon one and then another. Nature, by its very nature, is a spectacular. So why do we so regularly fail to notice the symphony taking place around us? What leads us to tune out the drama like a bad soundtrack in a shopping mall – only aware of it at its loudest and most disruptive points?

Is it that we humans have become less attentive than our not-that-distant ancestors?  Is it that, since we have very little legitimate fear of attack by mountain lion or warring tribe, we have lost some primal instinct to observe the world around us? Or, is it just that the chirping of crickets have been replaced by the chirping of cell phones (some called, interestingly enough, Crickets) in every human space, public and private? To be sure, the devices are designed to drown out all other stimuli.  Their chatter aligns to our own desire to feel wanted and responsive.

So why doesn’t nature stage a comeback? It does, we’d guess, during a raging blizzard or torrential rainstorm. But can it ever hope to regain our attention in the quiet moments? Can the sunrise get us to put down the remote control? A deaf man whose hearing was restored by modern science was once asked his greatest surprise in joining our noisy world. He responded that he thought the sun would be louder. How can something so majestic be so quiet? He makes a good point.

Are we attending to the real beauty in our lives or, instead, are we simply being overwhelmed by the noise?

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