I awoke from a dream in the early morning, thinking, There was something profound there… I don’t remember the context now, but someone (maybe me!) was explaining how to identify all the various background sounds in the environment where we were–the internal logic of dreams tells me that this was all very sensible and necessary, but when I awoke, what struck me was the application rather than the actual dream.
That thump that sounds like a door? That’s the bathroom shutter blowing in the wind. That grating sound? The dog chewing her rawhide. The rhythmic click? The overhead fan’s pull chain. Identifying all the background noises in my house at night is important to me, since my dog and I are its sole inhabitants most of the time. My brain needs to know what to monitor as urgent enough to wake me, and what is just white noise to be ignored.
We do this will all sorts of auditory stimulus–sometimes more successfully than others. I recall our first apartment in Fort Wayne, which was perhaps a quarter of a mile from train tracks. Waking in the middle of the night to the screaming whistle and thundering wheels, I fully expected the engine to burst through our bedroom. But that was only for the first week or two. After that, of course, I slept right through it and so did Dennis and baby Paul.
So what’s the application? Well, funny thing about that…it was so clear in my halfwaking dawnlight state. I suppose the question to ask is, What circumstances in my life are the equivalent of background noise, and what are the things to which I should give my undivided attention? What is alarming and what is just environmental? And do these things shift from ambient sound to foreground prominence, and back again? If so, why?
For example, what about world events? The political campaign? The friction in one’s congregation? The crime increasing in the city? In one’s neighborhood? To the extent that each of these things touches me personally, they are hard to ignore. But how to sort which non-intrusive things to leave alone, which to attend to? Is it responsible to tune out some “noise” at some times? With a toddler to watch 24 hours per week, eight piano students, a play in rehearsal two evenings, church duties and a son being (yet again) detained by the juvenile justice system, it would be nice to turn off all the extraneous “stuff” of life. If I could just decide how much to filter, especially as a Christ-follower…
Does anyone else think about this? Do you have any intentional filters in place? I’d love to get some feedback.