My second baby was a great sleeper, the best of all three of our kids. But the circumstances had to be perfect. None of this drifting off in the car seat, the shopping cart or the restaurant's high chair like some angelic children. But give that baby a darkened room and some white noise and his little eyes would be drooping before the first sweet strains of his favorite lullaby escaped our lips. To this day he sleeps best with a fan going in his room. I guess it drowns out the sound of life going on around him - the TV, his older brother's piano playing, his dad and I chatting, the garbage disposal and dishwasher. In this case, white noise is good.
It works for adults as well. Our New York city friends have a white noise machine in their apartment to mask the noise of the city - sirens, horns, blaring car stereos, heavy-footed upstairs neighbors.
But what about another type of white noise -- those intentionally sought out distractions that mask reality, blocking out what's real? Those things that become an excuse for missing our own lives? When I was growing up, TV was a pretty constant white noise machine in our house. Sometimes that's still true for me. But these days my white noise is often the soft glow of this computer and the snazzy little apple clicks that run a hundred laps a day around the same loop: email, facebook, twitter, this blog, news pages, other blogs. What, I wonder, is the noise masking? What reality am I missing? Good things? Difficult things? Maybe it's time to scale back a bit and really listen to my life, to what's real inside and all around me.