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  • Writer's pictureLaura Burke - Coach

Too Much Noise

Too Much Noise is a wonderful story about a man named Peter. The story is set a long time ago, and Peter is an old man. He lives in an old house. He lives alone, and has become very troubled by all the noises in his house – a creaky bed, a squeaky floor, leaves swishing in the wind and falling on his roof, a whistling tea kettle. Finally he goes to see the village wise man, who instructs him to get a cow. The cow mooing only adds to the noise.

Peter goes back to see the wise man again, and is told to get a donkey. The donkey’s braying again add to the noise in the house. So Peter goes back to see the wise man. Again he follows the instruction, this time to get a sheep. The sheep, naturally, adds some bleating to the mix. Peter continues to return to the wise man, adding a hen (who clucks), a dog (who barks), and a cat (who meows).

Although Peter has been getting more and more frustrated along this animal addition journey, he is now quite angry. One last time Peter goes to see the wise man, and says he’s going crazy! The wise man tells Peter to let each of the animals go. One last time, Peter obediently follows the instruction of the wise man. That evening, Peter hears each of the natural sounds of his house, one by one, and happily appreciates their quietness.

It may be apparent by now that this is a children’s book. I wouldn’t give away the entire story line (and dramatic ending!) otherwise. It’s a book from my childhood. Literally from my childhood – missing cover and yellowing pages as proof. I did buy a new copy, which I read to my kids countless times, because my old copy wouldn’t have withstood another round of the tiny – but sometimes rough – hands of young listeners. While many children's books teach lessons and values through the story, I love this one perhaps most of all.

It’s about perspective.

Contrast is a great teacher of perspective and 2020 is a year of contrast for sure. The stories and examples are endless… Things people thought were so important, that fade or downright disappear when a loved one becomes ill. Appreciation abounding for the ‘simplest’ of things when a loved one recovers. Seeing family, friends, communities and strangers through new eyes. Realizing that “not being racist” is just not enough when it’s made crystal clear that there are deep seeded and systemic issues in our country – the so called land of the free.

It is so easy to ‘make a mountain out of a molehill.’ Sometimes that happens because we forget who we are, and in our mind’s eye, in our perception of our self we have shrunken down to the size of one of those teeny tiny ants. So the molehill actually does look like a mountain! Remember to be a human, and not a tiny ant, and now it’s clear: that’s just a molehill. Take back your power when confronted with challenges. Some challenges are, indeed, mountains. But some are just molehills.

The quieter you become, the more you can hear… – Ram Dass

Sometimes, in our mind’s eye, in our perception of our self, we have grown to the size of a giant and a mountain actually looks like a molehill, an ant hill even! This often happens with the good things, the blessings. We dismiss them, don’t stop to appreciate them, perhaps don’t even notice them. Remember to be a human and marvel at the glory and magnificence of the blessings in your life.

Too Much Noise was originally published in 1957, and it’s still available today at Barnes and Nobles, on Amazon, and perhaps even at your local bookstore. It’s worth adding to your library no matter who you are!

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