15 January, 2008

A Deafening Silence

Last night I went to bed early, because I needed to make up some sleep. I was exhausted, and I was also getting a bit of a headache. I don't often get headaches, but it'll happen every once in awhile. This one was in the lower back of the head, to either side of the neckish area - not an unfamiliar location from my limited experiences. Anyhow, I'm not one to pop a pill, I just like to take it easy, and usually the best cure is sleep - although it's not always as easy as I'd like.

Well I managed to get to bed at a decent time, before 6 I think, but it wasn't one of those nice long sleeps I have where I fall asleep, and the next thing I know, I wake up 12 hours later feeling completely refreshed. I did manage to stay in bed for that whole time, though, instead of sleeping a bit then waking up completely without being able to fall asleep anymore, like I sometimes do when I go to sleep too early. So it wasn't ideal, but I think it mostly did its job. There was one annoying disturbance, though.

Sometime around 10:30 in the morning, an annoying repeating beep pattern started emitting from what I correctly guessed was my computer. I had no idea what it meant, as I don't think I've ever heard this computer do that before, but it sounded like some sort of alarm or warning. At first, I hoped it was just some virus warning or something from the daily scan - something that could be dealt with later - and that the beeping would just stop. Well, I couldn't take more than a minute of the beeping before I determined that letting it go on would be more detrimental to my perfect sleeping opportunity than getting up and stopping it.

So I walked over to my computer, and I first turned on the monitor. The test screen thingy popped up, like it does when the computer's off or when the monitor's not connected to the computer. Even so, the computer was still on - if the beeping wasn't enough of an indication. I tried hitting the power and reset buttons, but it didn't respond. So I held down the power button for a few seconds, and it shut down. The beeping stopped. I figured whatever had caused it to get wacky in the first place wasn't worth ruining my sleep over. So I went back to bed.

The first thing I noticed, climbing back into bed, was how incredibly quiet the room was. The loud hum of the computer (probably mostly from the built-in fan) had become such a piece of the background ambience of my room, that I had taken it for granted. Now, with it off, I was amazed by the sheer silence that filled the room. Laying in bed, with the door shut, I could actually hear things happening all throughout the house! It was amazing.

I got up later, at the regular time - still tired and wanting to sleep longer, despite getting a good rest - and the silence still amazed me. Particularly after leaving my room, then walking back in, where I would subconsciously expect to hear the sound of the computer, what greeted me instead was a deafening roar of silence. It was profound. It completely changed my whole sense of being. Everything seemed calmer and more basic. I was curious to find out what happened to the computer, but I wanted to extend this experience of silence as long as possible. I was also a little afraid that the computer had died, like my other one did just a couple weeks ago, and I was partly trying to postpone the verdict on that, because I wasn't ready to face that potentiality.

After dinner, the silence was still there. I felt so much more inclined to read books than I usually am. And I had a general sense of wanting to get things done - going through the stacks of, not just books, but DVD's and everything else that needed done. It was amazing, just the sense of not sitting at my computer, having hours of occupation at my very fingertips, keeping my finger on the pulse of the world - news updates, blog entries, media releases. It was like I was freed from this machine that fed off of the energy I plugged into it day after day. And I could just tend to myself and the things in my very own little corner of the world that needed taking care of.

Of course, the computer, and especially the internet, is such a huge part of my life, I couldn't go on for very long without it. I eventually switched my computer on, and it's working fine. I can't figure out what went wrong with it - I figure it just got tired and needed a break. But that experience of being disconnected from it really opened my eyes. It's something I'd like to make a point to experience every now and then. Maybe not every day, but as much as is convenient. It's an amazing, and therapeutic, experience.


  1. That reminds me of countless mornings having my roomates alarm go off repeteadly at 4 in the morning and keep me up but not manage to wake him up.

    Anyway, that's profound that it had that effect on you. Maybe you should become an ascetic too.

    I am afflicted by the internet in a basically identicle way, and there have been times when I have freed myself from its grasp like that too. They have generally been good times. I should do it more often.

  2. I rebooted my computer the other day and accidentally unplugged it; it was amazing how quiet it was. I always assumed the sound was part of living here, but apparently not.

    I wish I could just fall asleep for 8, 10, 12 hours and wake up completely rested. Lately I've been waking up halfway through the night, then going back to sleep; it's pretty irritating. I get the feeling that it's nowhere near as good as a full night's sleep without waking up at all... but it's been a while since I've had that. Sometimes I wonder if my body is still trying to adjust to sleeping on a flat surface instead of a futon in couch mode.

    Makes me want to try sleeping pills, heh.

  3. Dunno if you ever saw this article, but there's a guy who disconnected and actually gave up the Internet for one year. Pretty fascinating:


    I shut down my computer every night (and it's out in the living room, so that doesn't make a difference with sleeping), but I do appreciate some white noise in the background when I'm trying to sleep.

  4. Very interesting!

    I've gone back to shutting off my computer every night, myself. Considering how many minor problems can be solved by a reboot, it just seems to make sense to let it take a rest on a regular basis. Computers aren't all that different from people, I guess: they need sleep, too.