Noise is everywhere. It’s in your left ear. It’s in your right ear. At work, in your house, at the zoo, on the street, at the movie theater, at the store, in the deli, at the fish market, in your shoes, on the train, at grandma’s house, at the library, even in your mind—noise is everywhere.

One of the troubling items on noise’s long list of negative characteristics is its loose definition. To define noise, you can’t take a poll. No two people define noise the same way. A baby crying? Noise to one. Delicate, lovely, superior sound to another. The sound of rushing water? Pleasant, soothing, whispering waves to one. The fright of approaching death to someone else.

Noise is so annoying. We can’t even define how noise annoys!

Another item on that list of annoying characteristics is the fact that it is so hard to find the source. Have you ever heard a low rumble from somewhere inside the earth and wondered where that noise was coming from? Have you ever heard the ticking of machinery and weren’t sure there was machinery near you? Have you ever heard the ocean and been miles from it? There are many noises we hear but can’t locate the source.

To locate the source would be to define the noise, wouldn’t it?

For this we should conduct an experiment. Like any experiment we need control. In any experiment we need to reduce the amount of material we measure so we can get more specific data. Because noise is so pervasive, we’ll have to limit the amount of noise we actually hear during the experiment. What’s the best way to limit noise? Earplugs.

Alright, get your earplugs ready. Whatever kind you like best. The fitted rubbery kind are nice, especially if you have different sizes of ear holes than most people you know. The foam kind can work really well too: squeeze them and they form to fit your ear holes as they expand. Or maybe you don’t want earplugs at all. If you prefer the noise-cancelling headphones, that’s fine. Get those on.

Once we’re all ear-plugged and ear-muffled up, let’s start listening.

Hear anything? Not much, right?

This is the first step in discovering where the noise comes from. By cancelling the majority of the noise around us all, we can focus on the leading cause of noise. What do you hear?

What? You can hear your own breathing, your own heartbeat, your own belly gurgling? So that’s it! There’s the ultimate source of all the world’s noise, right there. It’s you!

Published by Kurt Gailey

This is where I'm supposed to brag about how I've written seven novels, twelve screenplays, thousands of short stories, four self-help books, and one children's early-reader, but I'd rather stay humble. You can find out about things I've written or follow my barchive (web archive, aka 'blog) at or follow me on twitter @kurt_gailey. I love sports and music and books, so if you're an athlete or in a band or you're a writer, give me a follow and I'll most likely follow you back. I've even been known to promote other people's projects.

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