Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Regulating Sound

There are sounds that regulate your day. Tiny somethings you hear, but don't hear, providing a sense of certainty. That needed predictability. And, thereby, comfort.

Once a sound moves into this category, regardless of where you might hear it outside of its usual purview, it is immediately recognizable. The person or thing that made it will be immediately recalled. I know after living with five of them, that the barking dog you hear is a Cairn Terrier. I can tell you immediately that it is a Love Bird making that racket...or a Cockatiel's twittering. And, once you live with Scotties, you'll always recognize their greeting, "Aroo!"

Take the Zippo lighter, for instance. When you hear the sound of the 'zing' as the metal slides open and snaps shut, yep, you know it's a Zippo. That sound still, even though I'm pretty anti-smoking, to me means, "All's right with the world. I'm safe." Every night before turning in, Dad smoked his last cigarette for the day.

That metalic scrape, as the lid flicked open, meant Daddy was only a few feet away in his adjoining bedroom. And, if I was having trouble sleeping, hearing his lighter was the best tonic.

The ticking of a familiar clock is one of those regulating sounds. Interesting- there was/is a brand of clock called Regulator. Recently, the grandfather clock required a house-call. The clock man, Mr. Ferguson, discussed Grandfather in a manner that made me think of a doctor questioning a family member during an exam. "And, what happened just before it stopped ticking?" I explained in detail. "And, once you started the pendulum, what then?" More detail ending with, "It just didn't tick right. Michael got a bit frustrated with me because he got it ticking, but it didn't sound right. He thought I was being crazy."

Mr. Ferguson, got very animated, "Oh no, my dear, you're absolutely correct! You could probably hear that it was saying, 'tock tick, tock tick,' when you are used to it saying slowly, 'tick tock, tick tock', am I right?" "Yes! That's exactly what it was doing!" Diagnosis secured, he went right to the issue to correct it. As he was leaving he said, "We know our clocks and how they sound even though we don't hear them most of the day." A very apt description of those wonderful sounds that we hear but don't hear in our daily lives.

The old Seth Thomas mantel clock upstairs has regulated Dietor days for over 80 years. Dad wound it religiously every Sunday evening before passing the key over to my keeping. In our family, when a kid turned 12 and not a moment sooner, they could be trusted to wind the old clock. Daddy taught me on my 12th birthday and it was quite an honor!

S.T. was my comforting companion when I was small. Often sick with pneumonia and other lung ailments, there were many nights when I was unable to sleep. Everyone and everything around me slumbering. It made for long, lonely nights. But, every 15 minutes a light, bright sound reminded me that all was well. Through the deep dark, the Seth Thomas sang the quarter hours to me. Most of the time, I very rarely 'hear' it. However, just now, I heard it chime as I'm writing this. Coincidence? Probably S.T. heard me talking about it!

Today, in the early morning dark, I realized that I have an additional sound to regulate my day and remind me that I am blessed to be alive. I heard Michael picking his glasses off the night stand. That's a sound he's brought to the symphony of our life together. For me, it's the new Zippo. Just as comforting and just as regulating.

Sounds and sights bring predictability and comfort. We all have small joys like that. Joys that generally go unnoticed, but still, are very potent. Today, I'll be listening for them with intention and hope you will, too. Thanks for listening!

Namaste' Till Next Time,

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