Disruption as default

Posted 5/12/21

On the frequent mornings I’m up and out on the back porch before sunrise, I’m treated to the melodic warbling of a songbird who lives in the woods behind our house. The preciseness of the onset …

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Disruption as default

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On the frequent mornings I’m up and out on the back porch before sunrise, I’m treated to the melodic warbling of a songbird who lives in the woods behind our house. The preciseness of the onset of his singing — at 6:30 a.m. on the nose, almost without fail — is magical. I’m there with laptop and a cup of coffee and, with that natural soundtrack to accompany my work, some soothing inspiration.

Then at 7:30, like clockwork, comes an unwanted and not-so-cheery-disruption: the thwunk-thwunk of heavy construction vehicles hitting the dip in the road near the entrance of our subdivision. Soon afterward: the hammering and the saws and the raised voices of workers competing to communicate over the din of machinery. Nail guns popping. The piercing beep-beep-beep of a truck in reverse. The occasional crash of something falling.

We have two dozen or so homes in our wooded neighborhood. Since we moved here a year ago, two more have been built. In the last few months, a total of 10 lots have been cleared; seven new houses are now under construction and plenty more on the way.

It’s good that the housing industry is in top gear, but it’s still disruptive for someone who loves peace and quiet and craves the solitude of porch time. We live at the end of a cul de sac; our home and those of our three neighbors are still somewhat isolated. So many thinned-out lots means noise comes from everywhere, however.

And on my daily two-mile walks on the roads here (there’s room for 70 homes in Phase 1 and another 30-plus in Phase 2) there are reminders of disruption: cast-off mud and clay from construction vehicles discolors the roads; undeveloped lots are littered with the wind-blown cups and food wrappers from the construction workers’ fast-food forays. Then there are the reflective fiberglass markers some residents place in their yards in a futile attempt to keep construction traffic from encroaching onto their property, and the mushroom-like proliferation of porta-potties (count ‘em, 10) along the two streets where most of the houses are being built.

I find myself easily annoyed at the interruption, the intrusion.

But none of us is entitled to a life without unwanted disruption. On a recent walk, I pondered the more serious interruptions so many members of my family and friends are facing. Death. Disease. Divorce. And in my mom’s case, severe dementia, which results in her daily struggle with her own brain.

Those, of course, are just the D’s. The world is an alphabet soup of worries.

Disruption is a default condition in life. On that same walk, as I listened to an audiobook about meditation, it occurred to me: one way to turn a disruption on its head is by disrupting it with an intentional act. Disrupt the disruptions. Anticipate them, then meet them head-on.

We’re inundated with them — why not attack them with some semblance of positivity instead of giving the annoyance a place to roost?

Easier said than done, but I’m going to take a page out of our backyard bird’s hymnal. He hears the rumbling trucks and the hammers, yet still greets each morning, without fail, with a song.

Bill Horner III can be reached at bhorner3@chathamnr.com, and on Twitter @billthethird.


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