From the Braver Institute
While I was outside working on my truck last weekend I realized something about myself that I hadn’t really noticed before. I noticed that I have a strong dislike of noise. I guess I have known for a while that I am no fan of noise, but that day something just kind of clicked and made me suspect that there are deeper issues here than just the usual dislike of noise that most of us have.
For reasons that are somewhat beyond my control I have had to adapt to a life of living in a populated area. I have neighbors. I suppose I live in a neighborhood. I don’t belong in a neighborhood and I am beginning to see why. I had always assumed that it was because I don’t really like people, but now I am starting to think that it is just that I don’t like the noise of people.
A few houses away I could hear a dog barking incessantly and the sound was really getting on my nerves. Now I realize that a barking dog is not a people sound, until you consider that his caring pet owners had most likely left the house for the day and tied Fido up in the yard. While they are gone they have no idea that Fido has spent his day making me insane. This noise is the fault of people.
All over the neighborhood the sound of lawnmowers and other yard maintenance tools could be heard, droning on and on and on.
On the street, there is the sound of idiots in giant pickup trucks gunning their engines in some audible attempt to make up for what they lack in stature. People frequently talk loud to sound important. The same could be said for loud trucks.
In the not too far distance was the frequent sound of other idiots on ATVs and motorcycles cracking the throttle over and over “Brap!” “Brap!” “Brap!” “Brap!” “Brap!” “Brap!” to get a little thrill from the sudden acceleration with a little bit of “I’m loud and therefore important” thrown in for good measure.
I started to wonder how the rest of the people in the area tolerated this non-stop cacophony that would certainly be the impetus for my descent into the realms of insanity. That is when it hit me. Noise doesn’t bother these people. These people enjoy living among other people and the incessant people noises must be some form of security blanket. These people must be the same people who choose the table next to mine in an otherwise empty restaurant. The noise has done its damage – these people are already insane.
Most of my life has been spent in areas where there are few people noises and lots of natural sounds. The sounds of nature are sounds that I can tolerate. The sounds of nature aren’t noise – except for the time when I had a woodpecker living near my cabin who seemed to think that my stovepipe was infested with insects, and off and on throughout the day would hammer away at the pipe trying to feed on bugs that weren’t there.
The sound of his beak hitting the pipe would resonate through the pipe, amplified by the woodstove within. It sounded like a jackhammer inside of my woodstove.
My dad couldn’t stand noises either, now that I think about it. He hated the sound of dirt bikes and snowmobiles tearing down our road.
He would pull the car over and rummage around in the back of it until he found whatever it was that was squeaking, clicking, ticking, or clanging in the trunk. Before his hearing started to go he would yell at people around the dinner table to “stop clicking your spoon!” if the utensil happened to make contact with their teeth. A person crunching potato chips made him crazy.
Maybe my disdain of noise is hereditary. Maybe there is something in my genetic makeup that gives me such a low threshold of noise tolerance.
There was a time when I ran a chainsaw all day long, but the noise of that didn’t bother me because I wore earplugs, and though I could hear the saw somewhat, I was mostly in a world of splendid silence. At least I could hear myself think.
Maybe I need to start running my chainsaw when I am outside, then I won’t hear all the things that are making me crazy.
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Waye Braver can be contacted on Facebook or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit the Braver Institute at www.braverinsitute.com