It was about a year ago that I discovered the relationship between my mood and the stuff that penetrates my ears and auditory cortex. My neighbors rented their garden cottage to someone with an unhealthy affinity for superhero movies at one million decibels, the road in front of my house was being fixed and the charismatic church across from my home was presenting a three day leadership conference.
I was sitting on the floor in the middle of my house, wondering if anyone would really miss me if my head exploded.
It wasn’t that all the noise was so loud, but all of it was annoying. Nothing about the bass of a television or the cutting of tar or the doof doof doof sound of conference music and the blah blah blah sound of conference talking was pretty. It annoyed the living shit out of me.
For the days that the noise around my home continued, I was hell to live and work with.
Years ago my mom and I rented a small beach house right on the ocean front in a pretty little coastal town. My mom loved the beach and the ocean brought her peace. It brought me an intense desire to switch it the hell off. Yes, the ocean is a miracle. But it’s also a very freaking incessant miracle. Every second…swoosh! Then again, as if timed: swoosh!
It never bloody ends.
With the lockdown in my country there rests an unfamiliar quiet over my city. It comforts me. The usual hustle and bustle have been quarantined and have made way for the gentler sounds of living that must have always been there, I just never noticed.
For instance, I never knew about the drop-dead-cute sound my cat makes when he’s completely at ease. It’s like a purr, but high pitched. Like a Kardashian making that ‘okurrrrr’ sound…but cute and darling.
Then there’s the almost vintage, faraway sound of an old vespa being driven around my neighborhood in the early morning hours. Ah…the newspaper delivery kid. I imagine the sun’s raise just teasing from behind the horizon and our vespa-newspaper-kid driving around with a smile on his face and singing something in Italian…
I live nowhere near Italy but this is my daydream so I’ll have the kid sing whatever I want.
My garden was established with the clear objective of attracting birds. When the sword of early presence at work hangs over my head, it can be quite annoying to have 12 species of bird singing outside your bedroom. It might be one of the smaller reasons I have a cat.
But now that I needn’t fix my face for work, I have a bit of space to take it easy in the mornings and to properly listen to the ornithological orchestra that is conducted in the branches outside my window. It’s quite breathtaking really…how completely melodious the chirpy competition is.
I am overwhelmed by large sounds. But I’m charmed by small ones. A few kilometers from my home runs our national highway. At night, when city sounds all but vanish, I am comforted by the sounds of large carrier trucks breaking…that deep grrrrrrrr sound of a monster slowing down. Why comforting? I have no idea. Maybe because in the dead of night it’s nice to be reminded that there’s someone out there. In the vast expanse of night I’m not by myself.
I read somewhere that the world should not return to normal after this lockdown ends. ‘Normal wasn’t working’. Well, return to normal or not, I hope we can at least dial down the noise pollution. This gentleness is nice…