Writing Out Loud: Quite Alarming

By George Stahl
Special to the Sun


Your alarm clock on the table next to your bed demands that you get yourself up every morning. It does not suggest that you roll out from under the warmth of the covers and casually get going. No, this device screams, “Get up! Get up! Get up!” Over and over, until you muster up the resolve to reach out and push the button to turn it off. Funny thing, when you hold that same clock in your hands the night before and you checked the setting, and gently placed it back on the nightstand, that device that you want to crush in the morning, was your friend. You put all of your trust in the fact that it would not let you down in about 8 hours.

Somewhere in your mind, your ally turned into the enemy while you slept, and you just want to see it die when you hear it in the morning. You will probably come into contact with at least one other alarm sometime during the day, you have no idea what type it will be. You know for sure though, it will be loud, obnoxious, and irritating.

What do you feel when you hear the word alarm? Just now, did you get a sense of anxiety? Maybe just a little? Impatient, like with the morning wake up buzzer or radio? We have been conditioned to feel an urgency with regard to alarms. Smoke alarms, fire alarms, security alarms, and alarms warning of other dangers all have a shrill, unwelcoming sound that penetrates our ears and causes our brains to go into a state of emergency. In other words, no matter what you think about alarms, they do their jobs to protect us. However, like that alarm clock in the morning, they only work if we pay attention to them. You’ve heard the saying, ‘This is for your own good.’ How many times has something that feels good come after someone tells you that?

Since these alarms are for your own good, what if we add an alarm to this list that could equally be for our good? What if, and I know personally, I could use an alarm like this, what if we had an alarm on our brain that would emit a warning siren when we were about to say or do something really stupid, wrong, insensitive, or questionable? Not necessarily a conscience alarm, that would be more of a moral issue alarm, but some sort of thought warning alarm. Only you could hear it, and maybe it could help cut down on the anxiety and stress we bring on ourselves by stopping us from going into areas of a conversation where no man is advised to go.
‘Think before you speak’ is easier said than done too often. Think after you have spoken is more of what happens and then your next thought is, ‘Oh man, why did I say that?’ This is usually followed by a lot of excuses, back pedaling and what you consider, reasons. Just think of all of the heartache you could save, for yourself and the person you are talking to, if you only had a thought alarm hooked into your brain.

Imagine, you are having a conversation with someone and you are forming an opinion of what they are saying, you have a thought brewing in your mind, you are about to put words to that thought, and just before you open your mouth, ‘Stop! Stop! Stop! Warning! Danger Danger….’followed by a quick burst of an annoying sound fills your head, and you close your mouth. No words come out, your neck contracts, your head nods, your lips pull to the side and you smile reassuringly in agreement. The alarm quiets, you sigh, and confrontation has been averted. As a bonus, because of the alarm, you have been given a chance to think of a response, you speak and without sounding stupid, rude or thoughtless, you are able to convey your feelings on whatever it was you were talking about. Wow, you actually sound good as you listen to what you are saying. That second part is not a guarantee, but a plausible outcome.

Will that alarm in your head go off every time it is needed? Like the other alarms you encounter, it depends on two things. How often you check the batteries, at least once a year, and make sure the alarm is still functioning like it should be. Two, do you listen to it when it sounds, or do you reach out in the darkness and punch either the button that turns it off, or hit the snooze button. Alarms are only as good as we let them be. They can warn us of the danger we cannot see, but they cannot grab us and pull us out of the way.

If you look on the internet, you will see that there are alarms on the market called personal safety alarms. These are designed to help when something has already happened. ‘I have fallen and I can’t get up!’ type of situations. Most of us have used alarms like that in our minds already. ‘I have said something really stupid and I can’t take it back!’ But a thought alarm could help you stay out of that situation altogether.

‘So, how do I get one of these thought alarms?’ you ask. We all come with one since the day we are born, all you a have to do is activate it. There is no phone number to call, no email to register with and no self-addressed, stamped envelope to return. The next time you think you might need one to simply listen for it before you are about to speak. What you do with it after that, is up to you.