Sounds Good to Us
It’s a beautiful Fall day. I’m driving in my convertible, top down, soaking up the sun and fresh air. The stoplight turns red. I stop and shift into neutral. I smile at the Simpson-like blue sky, filled with feather-white clouds. The golden-brown leaves are swaying in the breeze. I breathe in the sound of the wind rustling through the leaves. Suddenly I realize that I can’t hear the leaves rustling.
Two lanes to my left is a white SUV. The two young people inside are responsible for the booming sound of rap music, complete with sub-woofer rattling side panels. I glance at the woman passenger and wonder if she would like to hear the leaves rustling. Her face appears quite fragile, as if she is reeling from the pressures of life, or the sub-woofer, or both. To my immediate left now is a domestic car playing country-western music. Then I hear the sound of a Tchaikovsky symphony playing very softly in the distance. Finally, a throttling Harley Davidson motorcycle chugs into the soundscape. The airwaves are chock full of sound and noise. I’m feeling disoriented – something is wrong with this picture – I can’t hear the leaves rustling in the trees anymore!
Our response to sound and/or noise is totally subjective. To some, the chug of a Harley or thump of a rap song is glorious; to others, it is annoying and invasive. We are influenced by the loudness, frequency, and length of the sounds. We sense the context of sound before and during the sound event. For example, if you like loud thumping rap music, then you’ll get into the groove. If not, you might wish that the groove would deepen and swallow up the whole thing … Make it go away.
The sensitivity of our ears to hear sound is measured on a decibel scale (dB). Normal conversation is in the range of 40 to 65dB. Noise levels above 110 dB become very intolerable and painful. Continuous levels above 80 dB (Harley, truck, jackhammer…) can cause hearing loss.xxiii What was that you said…? Wild Hogs? What? Exactly.
The light turned green and I still couldn’t hear the leaves rustling, but the good news is that now I have something to write about. If you are reading this in Bensenville, Illinois, you might have an idea for an essay as well, but it might be hard to write the essay with all of the Jet planes flying over your Bensenville home every three to four minutes. The noise is so loud that many residents can’t sleep. They have to pause during conversations because the sound is so loud, hence the phrase, you guessed it, the “Bensenville Pause.”
Some (those not living in these high-noise pollution areas) feel that it is very difficult to prove that noise pollution causes health problems. Well… In 1990, extremely loud music, including Guns N’ Roses’ “Welcome to the Jungle,” helped force dictator Manuel Noriega out of the Vatican Embassy in Panama. During the Waco standoff in 1993, the Federal government DJs played Tibetan chant music and heavy metal music. Military officials agree that the one problem with using music as a weapon is that some people might like the weapon. Hmmm. “Welcome to the jungle, na-na-na-na-na….”
In June 2005, the Israeli Army used a weapon called “The Scream,” that sent out bursts of sound that creates vibrations in the organs, causing nausea and dizziness, to quell a demonstration in the West Bank. In July 2006, city officials near Sydney, Australia used Barry Manilow music to drive away late- night partiers. That’s the good news. The bad news is that nearby residents, sometimes affectionately known as ‘collateral damage,’ have been bombarded with semi-lethal Barry Manilow tunes such as “Copacabana” and “Que Sera Sera” from 9 PM to midnight every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Oh Mandy!
Make a commitment to be present in all of the choices you make. When making a choice, consider the consequences of the choice. Ask yourself how the choice will affect those around you. Ignorance is not loud or soft. Ignorance is separation and isolation. Awareness changes your journey from one of separation to one of unity. Awareness is bliss.
When you see yourself in others, then a respect for your/their space becomes manifest in your/their lives. Sounds good to me/you. Ah yes, the sound of the wind rustling through the leaves. The awareness of the invisible rustling through you and me: leaves on the tree of life, all making a joyful noise. Sounds good to us.
Copyright ©2009 by David Cain. All rights reserved.
ISBN: 1441480609 EAN-13: 9781441480606
Published by UMEDIA, Inc.