music painter

We've been waiting a long time for these months. In June and July, we can take in the bursting life around us and almost immediately get ready to complain about the heat and sounds of summer. It is also the time when I like to keep my windows open at night and sometimes at 4:00 A.M. I'll hear the robins waking up. It's sublime listening as I peer at the light inching over the sky. I get the feeling that nature wants to share some wisdom of which man has no understanding — a simple truth faintly appearing in his dreams but upon awakening he can never remember what it was.

Since I moved to my new residence in early spring, the open window has become a blessing and a curse. I look forward to the fresh air and the singing birds. But I soon startle at the blast of a truck's hissing brakes. It's 3:30 AM and it just pulled up beside the nearby grocers. For a while, its motor purrs loudly and then growls like a discontented cat moving off after losing its prey. With a loud bang again in defiance, its wheels hit the speed bump at full speed; the air thunders to a deathly silence. For some reason, the chirping doesn't sound quite the same. Shall I close the window? No, I'm too lazy for that now. Unfortunately, technology won't do that for me. But it's way too early to get up, so I let myself doze off.

Grinning with his set of perfect white teeth the barber glides his electric clippers over my scalp. Like pieces of my spirit, I watch my hair fall in useless clumps on the black and white linoleum floor. I pull myself out of the nightmare squinting at the blurry hand of the clock pointing at six; I agree it was a bad dream. Again, a reality is coming through my window. The lawn mower has started working the Par 3 golf course next door. Round and around it goes, razor teeth chattering, eating up the grass and cycling louder every sixty seconds as the machine passes nearby. Until it stops, I imagine numerous aliens torturing me in my back yard. In some places of the world golf courses are considered a problem because of their environmental impact, a waste of space and an illegal use of public money. Perhaps this is an affirmative hypothesis for some environmentalists. Nevertheless, this is Canada.

At seven I am fully awake with a headache. From what I gather, other seniors in this building are putting up with the noise and delight themselves with their condescension: “ You'll get used to it! ” or “ Don't let it get to you! ” It's unanimous! We've all decided that the solution to getting rid of our neighbourhood noise is to get used to it! We have no recourse because corporate food and golf course giants have completely out muscled us. Lately, I've shifted the weight of all this so that the advice I blocked from my fellow sufferers now sounds pretty good (no pun intended).

All afternoon I'm a bit sleepy and relish a siesta. I'm tired enough to imagine the answer to my sleep deprivation is linked to that early morning Robin — the message I missed. Perhaps my feathered friend wants to offer advice on how to survive using a language that we've yet to learn … the language of dreams, sleep and wakefulness. Researchers say that all of this is encompassed in our being as a delicate balance, influenced by the sun and the lack of it. Sounds intriguingly wonderful!

Nighty night and sleep tight. Don't let the bed bugs bite. If they do take a shoe and beat them till they're black and blue. (Old Ditty)

My June sleeplessness seems to have invited pleasant bird songs and not-so-pleasant noise. It turned July 15th the other day, and the robins have mostly excused themselves to be with their new families. I imagine the world breathing (if we can) a sigh of relief when the internal combustion engine disappears forever! In the meantime, I picked up on an idea from The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. If I could learn to stop reacting to jarring sounds, such as a lawn mower, and just let the noise pass right through me without my resistance I could make myself invulnerable. Maybe that's like surmounting things which I've decided are not really that important. ©

Eckhart Tolle

Getting Enough Sleep


July 15, 2014


James Kershaw


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Jim Kershaw says

December 20, 2016

Last year they got rid of the golf course and I sleep through the truck noise.

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