”We sit silently and watch the world around us. This has taken a lifetime to learn.’’ Nicholas Sparks The Notebook


Have you ever seen an army of empty cicada shells marching up a tree trunk? They remind me of the Chinese Terracotta Warriors.

And the noise of screaming cicadas in the eucalypt forest? It can be almost deafening and enough to send even a keen nature lover running back to the city.

Sometimes the inside of my head sounds like it’s been invaded by thousands of cicadas: Razorbacks and whiskey drinkers all whining and hissing and tumbling about so there is no room for my own brain, no room for my own thoughts.

Now I know this is one of the joys of parenting — sharing my head with everyone else — but  I wish I had a temporary escape button, especially when my husband is overseas.

Have you ever noticed that it’s harder to quieten the noise in your own head than it is to shut out the world? I know about mindfulness and meditation but I find it difficult to allow myself the time to just sit and be still when I’ve got deadlines to meet, children to usher through every step of getting ready for school (several times), bickering to stop, bills to pay, holidays to organise, laundry. You know… the general stuff of life.

And then I see people running, walking, sitting on the train in the seclusion of their headphones. Maybe they have more quiet time than me, or maybe I need more quiet time than the average person so I want to ask them: Don’t you want to unplug and allow yourself to daydream, to think, to let your mind wander?Several studies have shown that exposure to traffic noise is linked to cardio-vascular disease, fatal heart attacks, cognitive impairment in children, tinnitus, anxiety and sleep disturbance.

There are also studies that show the health benefits of listening to music. Are people listening to music that motivates them or reduces their stress or is it something else? Can we have too much music?

According to novelist and journalist George Michelson Foy, who wrote about his quest for silence in Zero Decibels, our senses perceive 11 million units of information per second. Our conscious mind retains one while our ”non-conscious mind” keeps more.

Apparently, we can have too much noise and it’s poisoning our brains and limiting our abilities. Silence is important because it breaks us out of our ruts and opens us up to deeper rhythms, Michelson Foy says.

What does noise have to do with belonging? Well, I have so much noise in my head that it’s making me scattered. I’ve lost my center, my core. I’m having trouble thinking about belonging never mind writing about it.


So I’m forcing myself to take one hour, play my flute to slow my speeding thoughts and then sit quietly reading. Usually I do yoga and rock climbing and running which I find meditative and restorative, but I’ve hurt my knee. So I will find another way to seek silence and calm.Oops, I’ve only got 30 minutes now.Are you overwhelmed by the roar of cicadas in your brain?