Among the many environmental losses of the last half century has been that of silence. Human-made noise now invades the wilderness and oceans, drowning out the mating calls of insects and interfering with echolocation of whales and dolphins. It's not great for people either-- constant ambient noise interrupts our thoughts, raises our blood pressure, inhibits memory and appears to be one of many reasons for the alarming rise in anxiety in the past decade.
According to acoustic ecologist Gordon Hempton, last year the US was down to just 12 quiet places in wild areas, where nearby manufacturing, chainsawing, motor vehicles or aircraft don't impinge on the sounds of the natural world.
In our hyper-connected world, we get a verbal barrage via media. Watch the next time you go walking-- how many of those you pass are wearing earbuds? Restaurants and pubs are rarely the place to converse anymore, with TVs and music blaring constantly. In waiting rooms, elevators, grocery stores-- there's few escapes from constant chatter and stimulation.
Today's challenge is to have a quiet day. Turn off the music, the podcasts, the television, the ringers and notification dings.
See where your mind goes when it isn't being hijacked.