Engaging The Sounds of Home

Aug 4, 2013 | Field Notes

Its summer and one of the best things of summer is leaving the windows open all day and all night. One usually doesn’t do this during winter. Having open windows lets fresh air into the house. It also allows all the outside sounds to come in. Generally, these sounds are pleasing messages of life in my neighbourhood. I can hear someone in the distance cutting the grass with a power mover, which is a ritual of summer. I myself, preferring quiet over noise use the more labour intensive push mover to care for the lawn. My neighbour to the left, who leads karaoke singing at a seniors’ residence on Sundays, practices his songs for a few hours each day in the late afternoon. My neighbour to the right is up at the crack of dawn watering and tending the bounteous and gorgeous flowers that rim his back yard where he often entertains a large circle of friends. The neighbour behind me is repairing his fence this summer and so there is the steady sound of sawing and hammer on wood. Almost every day there is a handful of children riding their bikes in the back lane, laughing and shouting to each other as they enjoy the dog days of summer. In the evening there is the sound of the crows that fly over our house in their daily commute from the ocean to their roasting place in a Burnaby ravine. Finally, from early morning to just after midnight there is the low whisper of the Skytrain passing by in the distance.

This cacophony of the sounds of life blends together and creates a melody of the neighbourhood. This melody becomes the music of the place that I presently call home. Over time, I have begun to associate these sounds, this melody, with this particular home. Perhaps it is like this for many people. Perhaps we associate a particular sound, scent, or sight with the place we call home. It seems to me that there is a bit of a ‘homing’ instinct within us. That is, we find our way home using our senses.

Home is often, although not always, the place in the world where we feel we belong, where we feel loved, where we feel we can rest, and where we are able to grow. Home is a place where we accumulate experiences, the memories of which can sustain us as we journey through life. Our senses help us to navigate our way back home and help us to locate the places of meaning stored within us. Our home may be our familial home, our cultural or national home, our religious or spiritual home, or even our earth as home.

There is much in life that pulled me away from home. Part of this was due to the natural inclination to grow by exploring life beyond the boundaries of my home. Part of this was due to the necessity to find what is lacking at home, like meaningful work. Certainly, part of the pull was to establish my own identity as an individual apart from my family and the communities of given meaning. Yes, there are many reasons for leaving home.

But there also are many reasons to remember home. Returning home, either in actuality or through memory, helps me to remember who I am, helps me to recalibrate my orientation in the world, and helps me to rejuvenate as I continue to live my life. To return home I simply need to trust my senses. The sounds, the sights, and the smells of home can guide me back to where I can simply be, resting with the assurance of the medieval mystic Julian of Norwich who said, “All with be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”

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