As a new member of the writing staff, the team suggested that I share my experiences with managing my own soundscapes — which is not always as easy as it might seem. Understanding the concept is straightforward. Proactively managing our soundscapes is a far more difficult task. In fact, sometimes, the very same sounds can be both comforting and distressing in different situations.
A Trip Down Music Lane
For example, my husband and I recently went on a trip to Austin, TX, the perfect destination for music lovers like us. We hadn’t been there in twenty five years, so we were both looking forward to it. I found a stylishly decorated condo in the heart of downtown. It was near all the hotspots.
Upon arrival, everything seemed perfect. The condo had great views of the city, was clean and beautiful. We unpacked our bags and went out to grab a pizza and listen to some live music. Wonderful! But after a long day of traveling, we opted to turn in early.
Awoken suddenly at 3 am, I rolled over and yelled at my husband, “WHY IS THAT MUSIC UP SO LOUD?” I recognized the music — the Goo Goo Dolls, one of my very favorite bands. But in my sleep stupor, I thought he was playing the music, and I was irritated at him. As it turns out, it was coming from a neighboring unit. I am not exaggerating when I say that I have never heard music that loud. Ever. And I didn’t even have my hearing aid in!
The walls were shaking, the floor was shaking … and we were now wide awake. We tried calling the front desk. (They said they would call the unit owner, but made no real promises.) We tried knocking on the door. They didn’t open up. I doubt they heard the knocking over the music. We went back to our unit and made coffee, sensing it was morning for us whether we liked it or not. The music went on without stopping until 8 am. If I had known about sound level meter apps at the time, it would have been interesting entertainment as we watched the sunrise.
The point of my story is this: Goo Goo Dolls cranked up in my convertible on a sunny day at 3 pm, AWESOME! Goo Goo Dolls blasting me out of bed at 3am, NOT AWESOME. As a matter of fact, I couldn’t even listen to those songs for quite some time after.
The Akoio Soundscape Journal
I loved the new Akoio Soundscape Guide, Why your personal soundscape matters. At the end of the guide, there is a Soundscape Journal that can be used for one week (more on that in another post!). I realized that many of the sounds that I enjoy in one situation, I find annoying or distracting in another. If you’ve ever turned your radio down in the car when you’re trying to find an exit, then you understand. Sounds in our environment can make us feel joy, annoy us, or even cause us pain. Sometimes it’s out of our control, but most of the time, it isn’t.
Using the soundscape journal helped me become more proactive about my own soundscapes. Now, when I travel, I’ll look for places to stay with better “quiet” ratings — and I’ll be ready with a good set of earplugs and sleep buds, just in case.
Have you tried the soundscape journal yet? If not, it’s as easy as downloading your free copy so you can start taking greater control over what you hear (and what you don’t!).