This isn’t just some rant so stick with me. You might get to the end and realise you feel the same…
We have rather unpleasant neighbours (to put it politely) who play music so loud that this morning, two nights after the latest incident, I had to leave the house and have a good cry about it (amongst other things). The music comes on late afternoon and usually goes on till the early hours of the morning. Most weekends. Last weekend, Graeme and I were wandering around the house at 3am because of it. This weekend, they took it to a whole new level. I can be guilty at times of stretching the truth, so take it from Graeme on this one: he’s been to quieter nightclubs. With our back deck that practically joins onto theirs, and their outdoor speakers pointed in our direction, you can imagine how it sounded in our house.
Naturally, we had words with them (screaming as we had to over the fence) and we called the authorities (not the first time). What the police officer said to me on the phone was what spurred me to write about this topic. The crux of it was that we live in a residential area and people have the right to play their music.
What about we live in a residential area and people have the right to a peaceful life?!
Noise has become so normalised in our society, and this is the problem. It’s everywhere you go.
Twice a week I leave the boys for a few hours with a lovely young woman (who was home schooled herself!) and I find somewhere to go. To work, to meditate, to contemplate, to write, to sit quietly. I am blessed to live in a place where I can take my pick of quiet beaches, bays and lagoons.
But, y’know, sometimes I want a table and chair. Sometimes I don’t want to sit under that almighty Australian sun. Sometimes I need me that wonderful tool called the Internet.
Libraries, you might suggest. You know what? They’re not so quiet! Plus they’re stuffy for sitting in for any length of time.
Cafés. Now here’s where my rant continues. They’re all so freakin’ noisy. All of them.
I love music. Of course I do. But the music that is so often played out there isn’t music to feed you on a deep level, to entertain, to inspire or to move you. It’s just noise. There’s a big difference between music played as music and when it’s just creating noise, however beautiful it might be. Baristas shouting out coffee orders, cooks doing their bang-bang thing in the open kitchens, customers competing over the chattering hum, and then another layer of noise emanating from the speakers.
Sometimes, I want to walk up to someone and say ARE YOU SERIOUS? But what I end up doing is asking for the volume to be turned down if I’ve planned on sitting there with my coffee. I usually get a funny look and they turn it down a fraction. I’ve searched the land and nowhere can I find a place that respects the need for quiet, that honours serenity and the state of our nervous systems. Much as I’d love to check into a spa on a daily basis, it’s neither practical nor financially viable. A café haven for introverts and peace-lovers… that’s what someone called it when I brought this up on Instagram a while ago.
Shops. Lord knows who came up with the idea that playing loud music would make people buy. All I want to do is get the heck out of there. Can’t you just leave me alone to ponder my purchases in blissful peace?
Same goes for most public spaces, it seems. Waiting rooms, shopping centres, any centre.
If our day to day lives were quieter, if the world were a more serene place, we wouldn’t be so desperate to escape to retreats. Why can’t we nourish our bodies and spirits here and weave those relaxing, restoring elements that we all yearn for on holiday into our everyday lives? How crazy is it that noise is the norm and peace has become an almost luxury commodity?
Let’s all acknowledge, introverts and extroverts alike, that we live in an overly amped-up world that frankly isn’t doing us any good. Let’s all acknowledge that, as emotionally complex creatures living amongst fast-paced, full-on and fired-up, what we need to create (and stand up for) is more quiet.
No wonder so many people are out of touch with their intuitive selves. How can we hear anything out there? I’ve said it before: you need stillness for those tender whispers to rise up.
And Mrs Police Officer, I must strenuously disagree. I don’t care that they had previously notified me. I don’t care that it was before midnight. People have a right to feel calm and restful in their own homes – God knows there’s not much of it out there.