My husband and I live in a suburb of Vancouver called Pleasantside. This neighbourhood used to serve as a summer cottage getaway. Every house is oriented for a view of the Burrard Inlet so the houses stack one upon the other on a hillside.
Since our house is lower on the hill we live, effectively, under the eaves of others. We love having the view like everyone else but in the summer we have a little problem. Above us, the houses sport huge decks and swimming pools and they become the place to party. Canada Day weekend arrives and the pool parties begin. This is an issue for a few reasons. First of all, we don’t have a deck or large swimming pool of our own. Second we are hidden below our neighbours in the shade of a tall plum tree, so they tend to forget we exist. And, third, we are not partyers!
On the weekends the neighbours in the house directly above us become loud and raucous. We ask them nicely to tone it down but inebriation seems to breed amnesia. The parties sail out into the night. Then in the next house over, the Dad reprimands his child. During the year, his yelling is kept locked inside but in the summer, the whole neighbourhood is privy to his disgruntle. To make matters worse, in the house next to his, there is a dog that barks. This dog is ignored by its owners and rightfully refutes his fate, stuck out on a narrow deck. For the past three summers we have stewed in this caucophony or alternately sought the refuge of the river. We have been unreliably able to enjoy our own space. But not this past summer!
This summer I was determined to change the vibration of my neighbourhood. When my husband was busy in June, I put in a garden by myself. By July I had three beds of vegetables sprouting, plus flowers and herbs. I felt a sense of love and pride looking out at the garden. I was so happy to greet it each day. Then I went to RONA and bought a water fountain. I turned the fountain on in the morning as the sun’s rays touched the blossoming greens in the garden. Next I found an iTunes radio station called Earthbeat. I took the computer speakers out onto the porch and whenever the voices started to rise in the houses above us, I aimed Earthbeat up at our neighbors. It was a reminder to them of our existence but it also worked as a sound mask for us. My husband and I began to hang out more on our deck and the sound of the neighbors began to disappear into the background. But the amazing thing is that eventually the neighbours disappeared for real!
In the house that was “party central” the parties started half-heartedly in early July. By mid July they had petered out. We waited for the usual loud drunken bash for the rest of the summer but it never came. And when the yelling father in the house next door let loose his usual rampage, I immediately went to the computer and aimed music toward him. I did not blast it. The music was more like a carrier. In the face of adversity, I simply gave the neighbourhood another acoustic option. And I gave myself an alternate focus. I focused on gentle running water, soft percussion and beautiful melodies, whether or not it would reach him.
In 2002 when I did my sound healer’s training with Simon Heather, I learned that sound healing is actually 10% sound and 90% intention. So the fountain and Internet radio was acting as my 10%. But I think it was my intention to be happy this summer that made a difference. Earthbeat radio as my focus seemed to reduce the bouts of yelling above.
Labor Day weekend arrived and my husband and I were amazed. There had still not been a big pool party! In the end, the parties never came. Why was this? Was it the fountain? Was it the garden? Was it the radio? Was it my intention? Or was it a coincidence? I know one thing for sure and that is that I got to enjoy my own garden, my deck and yard this year. But the truly tickling story is about the neighboring dog.
September arrived and with it came some gentle rain. As per usual the German Shepherd was shooed out onto his tiny deck. Locked out of the house, he began his habit of barking. This was very disturbing because my hearing is sensitive in the first place and I work from home. Not to mention the fact that the poor guy is neglected. I decided to go outside and try to talk to the dog. I started saying: “hush, puppy–hush!” But he would not quiet down. Then I remembered the fountain and the radio. It was raining but I turned on the fountain anyway. Then I thought – what the heck and I put on Earthbeat radio. Under the eaves of my own house, I pointed the speakers up at the dog.
Within two minutes my friend the dog stopped barking. He lay down on his deck and settled. Smiling, I left him to the fountain, the radio and the rain and I went back to work.