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Our Noisy Planet!

31 Dec

Our Noisy Planet!

There are over six billion of us on planet Earth right now and we are speeding toward seven billion. Two countries have more than a billion people, China and India. One of those two is growing faster than the other. Due to the forced birth control policies in China for the past generation, their population rate is growing more slowly than India’s.

That said, the planet has gotten noticeably more noisy in my lifetime. I have to be careful to not refer to some ideal Victorian past that never actually existed (at least outside of a handful of very rich families in Britain and the U.S.), but I think I can accurately say that, in my childhood, a neighborhood of houses like ours ($300,000 homes of around 2700 square feet) would not have dealt with noise complaints very often. Now our community newsletter is constantly reminding us to remember that we are not out on a farm somewhere out of everyone else’s notice . . .

Some of us have more sensitive constitutions by nature and can be easily derailed by someone else’s noise level. That doesn’t make that other person a villain, but it does make life interesting for us . . .

For example, I have long noted that I cannot handle the staccato barking of dogs in my neighborhood. And, thankfully, there have only been four times that that was an issue since we moved here 23 years ago. Three of them were at the same corner home, which probably has a built in dog house to attract dog owners as buyers!!!

There is currently a dog there that mostly howls, rather than barks, when sirens start or when he gets cold in the night (he is seemingly left outside 24/7, even in the coldest weather, and since I did ask our animal control people to investigate that and nothing changed over there, I have to assume that no animal cruelty laws are being broken). Thankfully, the howling doesn’t get under my skin the way the occasional barking does!!!

Some things about noises and noise levels are cultural.

Some are individual.

For example, I have long heard that the gentle rhythms of Baroque music are the rhythms that most mimic the human constitution. Since I love Baroque music, I am onboard with believing that. However, I realize that that is also an example of Western European thinking that may not be shared universally by all of the earth’s inhabitants.

The above musical selection is a folk rendition of a standard old hymn with words by John Bunyan.

What I like about it is the way it starts with the tradition of earlier music (including the music written during the Baroque era) and riffs a bit onward with it. The unexpected syncopation, especially that provided by the ancient instrument playing an alternate tune in the background, delights my senses. The drumline is just regular enough to not be frightening–walking along the ledge without falling over the edge. There are several times the drums thunder an alternate five or six beat rhythm, but they always resolve to the time signature of the piece, with a bit of syncopation thrown in for excitement.

To me, that is brilliant music–knowing the rules of good music composition and mostly honoring them. Breaking them here and there, but only temporarily. Keeping everyone, literally, on the same sheet of music, even as riffs occur on one instrument or another.

My taste in music may seem tame to some and wild to others, but that is where I am right now, as the unique individual God created me to be.

How does this relate to noise levels around us?

Well, for me, I can hear music composition rules in our movements, too. I never studied dance, but I am willing to believe that ballet dancers probably hear music composition rules and rhythms in almost everything.

In our home, for instance, my husband moves slowly in 4/4 time. I have been told that I used to do the same until I lost weight. Now I often don’t make noise at all as I move around. I sometimes even startle people that way.

Our son, on the other hand, is typical of many boys, especially special needs boys. He moves in 3/4 time, but with an erratic third beat. It never falls exactly where I expect to hear it. And it is often accompanied by a crash as he closes a door harder than I expected, or drops something, or opens a door too hard and hits the wall with it. We have built many doorstops into our life since he joined us in 1992, but have not been able to keep up with putting them everywhere they are needed.

And, see, that is something in which awareness goes a long way toward contentment. If I didn’t realize he moves differently because he is made differently, I would be constantly trying to change him into 4/4 time, which I expect would be impossible.

Instead, I have learned to enjoy the knowledge that he is here with us, crashes and all. If all else fails, I clip on the headset and turn on music like the video above!!!

In a world of so many people and so many noises, there is certainly a time that someone’s noise must be altered. There are noise ordinances for a reason, after all. There is a time to say something, to tell someone they must alter their noise level or face consequences.

May we be wise in discerning when those times occur and when other situations dictate that we should remain silent and try to accommodate others, even when their noise makes those of us with sensitive constitutions feel restless and nervous.

Written for a friend of mine, facing loud, constant, erratic bangs in Papua Indonesia on New Year’s Eve!

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