M. SCOTT MORRIS: Blessings and curses in our modern age



NPR interviewed a guy who’s out there hunting for true quiet. I picture him with a recorder slung over his shoulder, a microphone with a long handle in his hand, and headphones over his ears, as he steps over briars and ducks under limbs in search of the sounds our ancestors took for granted.

In the radio piece, I heard rustling leaves, chirping birds and a gurgling creek, then I heard the tell-tale sound of an aircraft crossing the sky.

According to the guy, there aren’t many places left where you can really and truly get away from it all because it all eventually tracks us down in this modern age.

Now, I like our times for the most part. Because of complications at my birth, I wouldn’t have survived being born just a decade sooner. This is my time and I’ll take it.

But one of today’s blessings is one of its curses. This age of ours is filled with what Paul Simon called “staccato signals of constant information.”

It’s happening at this very moment because I’m trying to get some kind of point across to you (and I’ll be happy to tell you what that point is as soon as I figure it out).

From early childhood we construct our filters, which are as necessary as they are potentially harmful.

With our filters, we can tune out that which would overwhelm our senses, that which would waste our time, and that which would distract us from our goals, whatever they may be.

The downside is sometimes our senses need a good rattling, sometimes a short delay is the quickest way to get from Point A to Point B, and sometimes an outside perspective can make our goals easier to attain.

I’d go so far as to say one of the biggest challenges in life is figuring out which of those staccato signals to ignore and which to allow in through our filters.

That guy probably isn’t the only one looking for a quiet state of being somewhere on this earth, but I’d bet it’s a tiny club.

According to a study I read online, people would rather give themselves mild electric shocks than sit alone in a room with their own thoughts.

That tells me we’re conditioned to receive constant information from the Mighty Daily Journal or an infinite number of other sources.

Maybe that’s good for us, since all manner of ideas, images and party lines are ready to keep us from getting bored.

But I admire that guy with his headphones and his quest for quiet. I hope he finds it.

If he does, he’ll probably be wearing brand-name shoes and a pair of pants with a logo, or his equipment will be stamped with pride by the manufacturer.

I guess my point is there’s no real escape from our modern age, but that shouldn’t keep us from trying.

M. Scott Morris is a Daily Journal feature writer. Contact him at scott.morris@journalinc.comor (662) 678-1589.

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