Saturday, February 19, 2005

Radio En Absentia

Three months ago, my car was broken into in front of the clinic where I work and the removable face-plate of my car stereo was stolen. The would-be thieves, aside from spraying broken glass all over my car's interior, tried unsuccessfully to pry the stereo itself out of the dashboard, leaving me with a non-functioning car stereo. As perturbed as I was when this first occurred, it has been many months and I still have not made any move toward replacing said stereo or at least buying a new face-plate to determine if the slightly damaged equipment still functions. I occasionally wish that I could slip in a tape (the CD player's been broken since I transferred the stereo from my son's defunct car to mine) or listen to NPR or Democracy Now! on the way to work, but I have grown used to the silence,or rather, the absence of noise.

Driving to work, I sing, talk to myself, or watch the road and think random thoughts. Sometimes I'll try to focus my attention on one issue or problem facing me at that moment, but my mind will eventually digress into random thought and fleeting images. (I sometimes think about the movie "Wings of Desire" by Wim Wenders, wherein the angels listen in on people's thoughts and try to intercede, and I'm embarrassed by what they might hear in my head.) I also have a small shaker between the seats (it's a large clam shell filled with beads), and I shake it while singing or just thinking aloud. It's strangely comforting in an obsessive-compulsive kind of way.

All of this said, what I find is that I actually cannot listen to the radio anymore. NPR seems like a whole lot of noise and banter---"All Things Dithering"---and Amy Goodman's Democracy Now! seems like Left-Wing Major Depressive Disorder Without Prozac (I think Amy has lost her ability to smile). While I sometimes wish I could tune in to Car Talk or other shows of cultural significance, I've come to relish my silent car time and am hesitant to repair the radio and once again be tempted to fill the car with distracting noise. I truly don't miss the pattern of local news/corporate sponsors/weather/human interest stories/political malfeasance/depressing war stories/station identification that can fill one's commuting time. I get my news from, Google News and The Nation and leave it at that. Do I truly need those other voices in my head?

In order to make this radio-free car time more productive, I am tempted, however, to purchase a small digital voice recorder, which would allow me the freedom to record random thoughts and ideas for this blog, make mental notes about patients and things that I need to take care of, and otherwise make my time in the car more entertaining and interesting.

Any ideas or feedback on the subject would be most welcome, and although I don't recommend having one's car broken into in order to achieve it, car-radiolessness is a state worth exploring. If one cannot have silence in some aspect of one's life, the noise will eventually blend together into one vast hum of distraction. Silence anyone?
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