The cooler temperatures of September in Nebraska bring about a particular silence around the house. At night, I no longer need to use an electric table fan to circulate air in the bedroom. The HVAC doesn’t cycle to air conditioning as frequently. There have also been fewer severe thunderstorms this month. For some happy reason, even my tinitus has decreased its whine. Hence, with less sound-masking taking place, my ears have been treated to more peace and quiet.
As I tap out these words on a laptop computer, I hear and feel the muted resistance of each key. My right knee accidentally rubs against the desk; this momentarily startles me. The 1960’s vintage wall clock battery movement ticks four times per second because it was manufactured before the quartz era. I pause typing to wipe away a smudge on my right eyeglasses lens. The heightened early morning awareness is not distracting; it is the prompt for today’s ramble.
Observers throughout the ages have noted that we humans possess certain mental qualities that distinguish us as a species. These attributes are independent will, creative imagination, moral conscience, and self awareness. These four, in particular, provide us with the ability to mindfully choose how we respond to stimuli. There is a certain powerful freedom we may employ if we so desire. One of the keys to exponential personal growth is consciousness of our personal awareness.
Philosophers and people who ponder human consciousness have contemplated the nature of awareness since prehistoric times. Awareness has often been compared to a stringed musical instrument. If the strings are loose (drunken stupor) we get a dull whimper. If the strings are extremely tight (anxiety or psychosis) we get an off-key screeching noise. If the strings are carefully adjusted and tuned (happy medium) we attain the ability to play beautiful, harmonious music.
People experiment with awareness each day. Some dull it with alcohol and narcotics. Some of us sharpen it with caffiene or stimulants. Some experiment with psychedelics and other “mind altering” substances. Still others develop the habits of meditating and contemplation. Out of curiosity, some people dabble across the range of awareness manipulation.
Even if we do not try to control our awareness levels, our brains and hormones do so naturally. Endocrinologists and neurologists study our biological and mental processes. Their studies sometimes overlap into analyzing awareness. Yet despite massive research into the nuts and bolts of consciousness, we do not yet know exactly what causes awareness to occur. This enigma will continue to motivate researchers for as long as the mystery remains unsolved.
After our basic survival needs are satisfactorily met, we set about trying to find meaning and purpose for our lives. The ultimate value of our lives greatly depends upon the power of contemplation and analysis of ourselves and the Universe around us. This is a natural way that people have expanded awareness since the dawn of time. When we ponder life beyond basic biological survival, our imaginations soar into flights of fantasy and possibility. This experimentation can be used for evil or good purposes. When consciousness is tempered with empathy and compassion, our awareness is better able to engage helpful actions.
When we spend time in the great outdoors, we can allow ourselves to experience the Universe’s music, beauty, and majesty. There is a type of nostalgia which captures our attention. We perceive some measure of expectation and grandeur that exceeds our physical boundaries. Such levels of awareness exceed our ability to express our perceptions in conventional terms. Awareness is the seed of the arts. Awareness makes us fully human.
The Blue Jay of Happiness ponders the powerful message behind this Emily Post quote. “Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.”
It is interesting that the absence of stimuli can make us more aware.
Our brains instinctively filter out distractions. With fewer environmental distractions, the brain’s job is easier.
It is surprising that an uncommon silence can seem like a stimulation to the senses. And sometimes, when one sensation changes, like the absence of sound, other senses might be more noticeable, like the touch of your keystrokes, the smudge on your eyeglasses.
As an additional note, after I wrote that paragraph, a cricket jumped into the trashcan and scared the living daylights out of me. 🙂