I find it funny to think about how ‘white noise’ machines got their name, how unlike ‘white’ they are. White contains the full spectrum of light (all the colors of the rainbow and more), by contrast ‘white noise’ seeks to obliterate the spectrum of sounds. Although the sound they emit mimic those in nature, such as waves upon the shore, rain upon the roof, or gurgling streams — they ring tinny and untrue. Their purpose is to cover over and create a sense of privacy (so others can’t hear what is going on), or to create a sense of security and safety, to be soothing and help us to sleep at night.
How fragile we’ve become as a species that we need something artificial, something man-made to help us connect to something that is Life-giving. It is a testament to how disconnected or separated we’ve become that we forget that there is a simpler, truer solution — if only we would step out of our front door, walk along a stream, shut off the TV or radio, stand in the wind, or listen to the rain fall upon the roof. If we could remember to take advantage of the myriad of opportunities that are always there, to stop and pause, to bring ourselves into the presence of soothing sounds, we would negate the need for ‘white noise’ in our lives.
But it is easier to buy the ‘white noise’ machines. There are ‘reasons’ we need the machines: doing it au natural isn’t always convenient; it is difficult to fit it into our schedule, or we live in the city and nothing natural is near-by. Unless by magic we were to notice a song bird singing or the coo of the morning dove, catch the light playing in the leaves, hear the chittering of the squirrels scolding us from the trees, or step outside and let the rain fall on our face. Moments are always there, no matter where we find ourselves — we just have to be willing to stop, look, and listen.