I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Peace and quiet

From Nicolya Christi
Is there anyone who doesn't look forward to having some peace and quiet? I remember my parents when I was little asking their rowdy children to let them have a little "peace and quiet."

I wondered what I would write about this morning, and several times during the night that phrase kept coming to me. In the summertime we usually have the bedroom window completely open, and the sounds of the night sometimes includes the sound of a barking dog. Incessant, sharp yaps, which utterly destroys my peace and keeps me awake. Last night I fell asleep at an early hour, as I usually do, and that sound brought me back into consciousness. I tried to ignore it, but of course I couldn't.

Here in Bellingham within the city limits, dogs are not allowed to destroy one's peace and quiet like that, but that would mean getting up, finding the telephone number to call, staying on the line while I am connected to the police station, and making a complaint. That was going to make it even harder to get back to sleep. But as the sound continued, I got up and put on my robe and slippers and went outside to follow the sound to its source. At midnight, I was amazed to see how much activity was still going on: two people rode by me on bicycles in the dark, several apartment dwellers were watching television with all the doors and windows open.

I found the source of the barking in a house on the other side of the driveway, and as I approached, it stopped. The barking stopped. The only sounds I could hear were of faraway traffic and crickets hidden somewhere in the grass. A conversation from somewhere between two people wafted out of dark, so I crept back up the stairs to my own apartment. I climbed back into bed and snuggled back into my covers. As I drifted back into sleep, it started again. Same dog barking. This time, I was determined to get back to sleep, find my peace and quiet and contemplated ear plugs. But then it stopped, this time for good. The dog's owners had apparently taken him inside. My peace and quiet was restored and I fell asleep.

This morning as I sit in bed, tea beside me and my laptop in its usual place, the sounds that I hear all contribute to my morning peacefulness, rather than bother me. First, the distant sound of the rooster who crows from an hour before first light... somehow that sound is not annoying but rather restful. The birds chirping in the trees, an incessant trill alongside the familiar sound of my goldfinches, and the sound of the keys being depressed on my laptop. It's Sunday morning, and after having most of my sleep uninterrupted, I'm in a particularly good mood.

The world we live in has become very noisy, and as population pressures mount, finding some peace and quiet has become problematic. I don't think I'm the only person who needs it. Some people may thrive in a chaotic environment, but I sure don't. I am bothered by certain sounds and too much light. Sleeping on a plane is impossible for me, or anywhere that is unfamiliar or doesn't give me the ability to stretch out and turn onto my side. My own bed is the best place for me to sleep, with the temperature cool enough to allow me to have a light covering, more for the ability for me to burrow into it than for warmth, at least in summer. And I need relative quiet, which most nights I get plenty of.

But as I sit here thinking, wondering where I'm going with this post, I realize that the state of my mind is what contributes the most to my inner peace. If something is bothering me, it continues to roll around inside my head, interrupting my sleep and invading my dreams. When my thoughts are peaceful, I sleep incredibly well. It does make me wonder if I could somehow rise above the sound of the barking dog and fall asleep anyway. No, somehow I cannot picture that happening, but then again... imagination is a powerful tool, and maybe I can transmute that annoyance into acceptance. Maybe, but taking action and making a complaint might be the right path, too.

The gloomy skies and rain of yesterday seem to have lifted, and today might actually allow us to make a few skydives in Snohomish; I'm hopeful. Last Sunday I was able to make two and play in the air with my friends. I came home from the day's activities rather early and spent all day Monday hiking with some other friends. My life is very full, it seems, and I look forward to every day that I am given with gratitude. I am grateful for all the peace and quiet I have, inside and out.


Grandmother said...

You remind me how much there is to be grateful for and to relish, including the times for peace and quiet.

Sandi said...

Peace and quiet, I love that. I have been laying in bed, forced by continued swelling in my knee post op, and kind of rebelling against it all. Yet, I found a way to prop myself up enough to read your post this morning, and you helped me stop and think about the peacefulness I am experiencing at the moment. Thank you for that.
PS ~ I also read about your recent hike, and I just can't wait to be healed up and able to hike again!

Rita said...

Ahh! I've had more peace and quiet here these last six years. When there is loud music late into the night on rare occasions, or roaring cars, or kids screaming I find I am more annoyed with it than when I used to hear it all the time. I relish my peaceful days and nights.

I know what you mean by he inner peace, too. When there is something nagging at you, your insides are not calm--no matter how calm the outside can be.

I don't think I could mind-over-matter a barking dog, but earplugs might work. ;)

Donna B said...

LOL...we have lots of peace and quiet here in our neighborhood. The occasional barking dog, mainly when someone is out walking and the dogs see one another...

We are in our summer months which are the hottest three months of the year. Walking must be early morning or dusk before dark.

Spring brought a prolific crop of baby coyotes. We have almost daily sightings of them. We share information as we meet walking on the streets... Izzy is still sleeping underneath the futon in the office or our bed during the day...ever since she witnessed the killing of the neighbor's dog.

I have lost 7 pounds...mostly from water retention I expect, but it is nice to see the lower number on the scale...

I am excited. Thursday, my friend from Missouri comes to visit for a week. Saturday, my mom, sister and another friend arrive for another Creative weekend.

My back is doing so much better, so I am taking it easy, pacing myself to not over do and throw it out again.

My spirit is peaceful and happy...soon our quiet home with be bustling with conversation, laughter and planning activities.... I look forward to it...and am so grateful.

Have a great week my friend!

Anonymous said...

When I first moved here, my neighbors dogs barked most of the night. As much as I hated it, I couldn't complain. I thought of all those years I had the animal shelter and how my neighbors had kindly tolerated me. I thought perhaps it was pay back. Odd how I never heard my own dogs bark but was sensitive to my neighbor's.
Arkansas Patti
Now I no longer hear them, peace and quiet once again rule.

The Retired One said...

I understand completely. We used to live on a main st. in a larger town and the cars going by at all hours of the night with open windows (our house and the cars) with blaring rock and roll and country and rap music loud enough to rattle my cupboards...it was one of the reasons we moved. Now, although we live in town on the lake, nighttime involves crickets, occassionally a dog barking in the background (briefly(, sometimes coyote howls across the lake and quiet...pure quiet on other nights..it is heaven.

Retired English Teacher said...

I struggle so with sleep these days, so I can totally identify with what you are saying. When my mind is overloaded, I can't sleep and the slightest sound sets me over the edge.

Thankfully, we don't have any barking dogs in the neighborhood. But, there is the motorcycle driver that idles his engine early in the morning. Grrr. My husband said he is about to go ask the guy if he can pay for a tune-up on the thing.

Anonymous said...

My neighbor used to own a small dog that barked incessantly. Even with the a/c on, I could hear it. Thank goodness, he got rid of it. Yes, I, too, enjoy peace and quiet.

Star said...

There is noise and noise as you pointed out D-Jan and I'm sorry you were disturbed by the barky dog. When I hear that particular sound, I always worry that the dog has been abandoned or neglected in some way and like you, I have been up in the middle of the night, in my dressing gown, checking to see where the dog is.
What disturbs me most is the sound of motor bikes or cars late at night, mostly the riders showing off. They wake me up with a start and it is hard to get back to sleep. Natural noises don't bother me nearly so much.
My house here faces east/west so we have the blazing early sun in the morning right across the garden and the back bedrooms. It is impossible to ignore it. However, it is a glorious sight to be woken up to and since we don't get the sun every day, when we do, I welcome it.

Linda Myers said...

Our peace and quiet was interrupted a couple of nights ago by a woman's scream outside. We called 911 and the police showed up, chatted with me outside in my bathrobe, then dispersed. All was quiet again. Hopefully the screamer was okay.

Robert the Skeptic said...

So here I am reading your post about "peace and quiet" as my 5 y/o grandson is trying to drag an 8-foot piece of wood molding down the stairs, banging the wall all the way. He has a ton of toys here, none of which interest him. Grandma was in the bathroom... it takes only that few amount of minutes for grandson to belie his deeds with incessant noise. We love him but breath a sigh of relief when Mom comes to take him home.

Why is it that dog owners seem to be deaf to the barking of their own dogs? I had a similar incident with the neighbor on the street over. I went to the house about 11:30 PM just as they arrived home. Talked to them about leaving their dog out alone, lonely, howling when they go out.

Next month (October) the same thing. This time I recorded it and wrote to the police department. The PD called me and asked if I wanted them "warned" or "cited"? I chose the lesser approach and they were "warned".

July 4th weekend the neighbors were gone a lot... and the Beagle howled past midnight. Second recording and letter sent to the PD... "Cite them this time, I'll be happy to appear in court", I added.

Peace and quiet... for now. Grandson is watching TV.

Nancy said...

Being grateful is the most important thing you can do for yourself. I'm like you - I need a cool sleeping environment, dark, and quiet to sleep. I am a very light sleeper, that's why I like sleeping next to our stream - all I hear is water.

Jo said...

Oh, gosh, Djan, you are exactly like me. I live in the heart of the city, but fortunately it is fairly quiet most of the time ~~ no dogs. We do have the odd party animal, though, in the form of a 20 year boy who invites all his friends over at 2:00 in the morning ~~ right next door.

We also have raccoons in the trees outside, and the crows go insane when they're visited by the raccoons.

I too, enjoy peace and quiet, my own bed, and a cool temperature, so I am quite thankful for our lovely summer. Those poor folks back east ~~ phew!

Friko said...

Peace and quiet, I have a surfeit of it.

Of course there are dogs barking and birds chirping, but at night it is so quiet that I can hear the river below the house gently shushing over the rocks in the river bed.

A bit of life would be nice, but after the pub has shut, nothing moves. That goes for Sundays too. A few cars, a few visitors, mostly well behaved, church bells, that's it.

Writing this I am becoming aware of how quiet it really is here. Heavens, I used to live in London!

Midlife Jobhunter said...

, "I realize that the state of my mind is what contributes the most to my inner peace"

Yes, so hard to get a handle on that although it seems you are successful. I'm jealous you get to sleep with the windows open. And, I, too, love to lie in bed with a cup of tea and laptop close at hand.

Far Side of Fifty said...

I miss having a window on my side of the bed..I love the sounds during the night.
I can imagine you trudging out in the nighttime looking for that dog..perhaps you need a good set of ear plugs:)

Anonymous said...

Synchronicity: as I was reading this post, a dog began barking outside.

As for the world being a noisy place, it has been so for my whole life, but I see it getting only worse, especially among many younger people, who seem not to be able to tolerate silence.