Wednesday, September 13, 2006

You know I've been thinking lately....about space. Not outer space or the demotion of Pluto to dwarf planet, but "personal" space. You know, that space that exists in-between our bodies and the invisible (but very real) line we draw around ourselves, defining our boundaries. As I take note of where my line is, I suddenly realize that it changes constantly—in different environments, with different people, in different situations, and especially how it is affected by different senses. I realize that its location has a lot to do with my comfort level and that when that line gets crossed I experience a real feeling of discomfort.

The strangest part about this line is that not only do we rarely know exactly where ours is (until its crossed); other people have absolutely no idea where someone else's boundary might be. There's no buzzer sound like when you go over that line in bowling. Everyone usually just assumes the other person's line is in a relatively similar place to his or hers. I think most people are wrong...most of the time.

Lately, loud noise has been crossing into my personal space far more than I like; late night partying neighbor noise, loud talking basement renter noise, next door barking dog noise, occasional traffic noise, and it makes me (surprisingly) angry. OK, so I've never liked loud noise. But it’s never made me so angry before. I have already learned to accept noise on many levels and in many situations in my life and so I am caught a little off guard by my sudden intense discomfort.

Since I have three kids, I have already been forced to accept a LOT of "child" noise. When my oldest son was 4 years old, he would talk non-stop from the moment he woke up till the moment he went to sleep. It was exhausting. One day when we were baking cookies, out of frustration I said "Can't you please just be quiet for 5 minutes?" Without hesitation, he turned to me, looked me straight in the eye and said "No Mom I can't, because I'm just not a quiet kind of boy!" So, reluctantly, I have learned to adjust my personal child noise acceptance level...most of the time.

The festivals and events I draw at are almost always very loud, much louder than my comfort level. I have learned through the years to deal with it by using a meditation technique. By continually focusing on my drawing, I create a space or buuble around me where the noise can't penetrate. It works pretty well...most of the time.

But now, here I am faced with noise that I can't seem to come to terms with. I have never felt so personally battered by its constant intrusion. Maybe spending three nights on top of a mountain in a camping cabin with no electricity (and very little noise) a week ago, has made me more keenly aware of the amount of excess, outside loud noise that exists in my life here. Am I just getting old and inflexible or is this just a stage I'm going through—temporarily threatened by the possibility of losing even more sleep ( when I get so little as it is)? Is there a way I can accept these noise intrusions or do I need to aggressively defend my space? I don't know...

I know that I accepted a new level of noise with my son the moment I realized that he wasn't doing it to frustrate me—he was just living his life as himself in the only way that he knew. But, it also required my energy to explain to him about controlling his own "noise" and teach him about where my boundary line was. He is now nine and is still a very talkative kind of boy. He's very smart and loves to share his knowledge with me. He has finally learned to recognize that certain moments are not ideal moments to educate me on Greek history and to wait quietly... most of the time.

So maybe I just need to understand that the culprits of all these noise intrusions in my life lately are just simply living their life unaware of how their noise carries across my boundary line. Perhaps, I need to let each of them know where my line exists. Maybe I should calmly talk to each of them and explain that at certain times I would really appreciate less noise coming over into my space, and hopefully they will understand and try to fulfill my least most of the time.

I really just wish I could get a bowling line buzzer.

No comments: