You step into a long dark hallway, illuminated only by one yellow light at the end. As the door shuts behind you, you are inundated in silence, you notice for the first time how incredibly loud it was and how many sounds there were outside. The path is several feet wide and drops off on either side. The only place to go is forward, towards the light. The only sound you hear are your footsteps and the sound of your breathing. It becomes alarming how quiet it is and almost spooky as you think about how "the dark path towards a light" is the go-to cliche, for when people describe dying. You are left to your own thoughts and want to yell to fill the void of sound but no-one can hear you. Time seems to pause. You think to yourself, “how long have I been in here?" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Suddenly the door swings open and natural light floods the hallway. You squint in the bright sun as you hear the doorman yell, “times up!” It has only been 60 seconds but you’re grateful for the bustle of people, the noise of the city and voices–to not have to be isolated and in complete silence, facing your thoughts alone.
This was my experience in The Silent House, by Simon Heijdens at SXSW. It caused me to reflect on how much we as humans rely on familiar sounds. How we become so accustomed to background noise that without it, we no longer know how to function rationally. Take a minute to close your eyes and listen to the sounds around you. You might be surprised to discover what sounds surround you constantly and keep you sane.