Layers of Noise

An exercise in observation:

Sitting at an airport on February 26th, I was waiting for my flight home.  Airports are a great place to people watch and I jotted down mini character sketches of clothes and hair styles.  I started making a list of all the noises I could hear.  Beginning with conversations close to where I was sitting I began to hear layers and layers of noise in a widening circle.

Here’s a list:
conversations: someone on a cell phone, a father talking to son, a mother reading a story to another child; intercom messages to passengers; child crying across the room; cup with ice thrown into the trash; human noises like laughing, sniffing, blowing nose; crumpling of a bag; aluminium crutch pushing on the floor; wheels of a luggage cart; a bell; some machinery, intercom message “Gate 49, Flight ### to Orange County”; and behind all the noise I realized that there was music playing overhead.  This exercise of intent listening revealed to me just how much sound I block out.  I was hearing sounds from across the room, maybe even from the vent that connected other areas of the airport.

As I focused on the noise it keep getting louder and louder, actually reaching a high pitch frenzy of sound at one point: a cacophony of sounds.  The music was the last layer of sound I focused on before the Gate message brought everything back to the here and now.

About Wings of Wonder

Linda Ruddy is a creative with a diverse range of interests in writing and painting. She currently is revising a middle grade novel, and author and illustrating a picture story book. She is an active member of SCBWI, Society of Children Book Writers and Illustrators. Linda has a body of paintings, which form the foundation of her artistic development. This work can be viewed on her website: Her recent illustrations are an outgrowth of the style she developed in these paintings. Another passion is sculpture. Linda often uses her figures as models for her art. Linda's blog is eclectic and journeys wherever her muse guides her attention. Her blog address is: Following the muse, Linda Ruddy
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6 Responses to Layers of Noise

  1. robin says:

    I often do this when I am sitting alone in a restaurant… I tune in to all the sounds and jot them down, anything that catches my fancy or spurs and idea. It is a great exercise in paying attention and in staying in the present moment.

  2. Marilyn says:

    Linda, love these gorgeous flourishes. And your airport observations. I’m not fond of airports at all so a good book is my best traveling companion. 🙂

  3. It’s amazing how much noise we block out in order to focus. I did a similar experiment at the coffee shop where I write. Once I removed all the “filters” I was shocked by how much noise crowds the space. There is both inspiration and distraction in that chaos! 🙂

  4. Kate Kresse says:

    what a cool way to accumulate noises around us….rich resources for a future story!

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