Journal

Meditation at Work: A Cacophony of Silence


Before I started doing development work I often giggled internally at a friend of mine when he was coding. Headphones on and his hood up. A little island in the middle of the rest of games team. But then as I got started into it I realized just how good it feels. I listen to a lot of Dubstep and Dance music myself. You can find the radio station here. I don’t tend to listen to it loud enough to potentially damage my hearing, not that that requires much effort, I listen to it just loud enough to make the noises and conversations around me indistinguishable from white noise.

In this way I manage to strip everyone of meaning. Once sounds lose their meaning they stop being distracting. It’s all about data corruption. Once your mind can’t even fake patterns it’ll just start ignoring it. Clocks ticking, winds blowing, tires turning. At the right frequency it all becomes white noise unless you focus on it. The further from tangibility I can get the noises the easier it becomes to not focus on it.

I’m not a super sociable guy as it stands. I have a very particular set of requirements to interact with other people. I have absolutely no patience for rudeness, condescension, or any other negative personality traits. Once someone exhibits any of them I just shut them off and write off their existence as a bust. Life’s too short for that nonsense and frankly it is beneath me. That isn’t to say I couldn’t have conversations with my colleagues, most of them are wonderful people. Our newest hire is dangerously easy to talk with, a very nice guy that has seemingly no negative traits. Kinda spooky actually, best I can tell he’s a swell fella. But back to the point.

I find it interesting that in this cacophony of deep bass and crescendos I can find something almost indistinguishable from silence. My concentration solidifies into a finely sharpened edge. I’m still hearing things but I’m not. Marry that paradoxical revelation with the effect of high intensity music on my hormone levels (a reason you shouldn’t listen to fast music while driving, by the by). I get all the good draws from the intense music, the fast movements and quick thinking, with none of the heavy baggage of extraneous information processing.

This is essential for me because without headphones I hear every single conversation. I don’t know how other people zone that stuff out. I follow every word by every person. I’m not even trying to listen to these people. I hear every little detail about people’s favorite foods, recent television shows, new plans for future projects, and so on. If you’ve ever worked with me and spoken within earshot of me I heard all of it. I may not have wanted to, but it joined in with the rest of this noisy planet in driving me ever closer to madness.

I’m somewhat addicted to information. I need to take in lots of it for any hope of things sticking. A part of me wonders if that caused this passive intake problem. In an office where I’m only a few feet away from 15~20 people, it’s horrendous. Lunchtime might as well have everyone firing off assault rifles for all I can hear. It’s entirely unfair for me to tell everyone else to silence. It isn’t their problem that I’m weird.

So this is my solution. Intense music and my hood up. I see now why he did this. Blocks out so many distractions around me that I feel like I could move mountains with my words. Naturally I can’t and won’t, but I’ll be darned if it doesn’t feel that way. It’s nice to have a few moments in my life where the only thing I hear is my own thoughts.