House and Home - Places to nourish family and self


The Home is the fortification of the family and the individual. We express ourselves in our homes by adorning them with pleasing and functional objects. How we feel within our home is a product of our familiarity with these adornments, but our willingness to accept a place to adorn and dwell in is often a product of other comfort factors. Our sense of safety and security of a house is determined by how connected and how private the space feels. Connectedness and privacy are much more powerfully influenced by sound than any other perception:

"...If you give a young child a box of crayons and a few sheets of paper, there is a high probability that he or she will draw a house. This house may be beset upon by dinosaurs, or surrounded by long haired horses wearing tiaras, but a house will likely be central; a starting point for the child's reality. It is arguable that our perception of the self originates with our recognition of the home, what is inside of it and what is outside.

"This inside-outside concept precedes the recognition of "the Other" (Mom and Dad for instance,) originating in the environment of the womb. In the seventh week of growth, the human embryo has developed the organs of equilibrium - the middle ears; by the twelfth week, the inner ears are fully functioning and the child responds to the sound. This dark environment is far from silent, and there is lots of information which constitutes the child's reality. The sound of heartbeats, voices, songs, noise and music all play an important role in anticipating the world into which the child will emerge.

"The sounds of a mother's heartbeat, digestion, breathing and movement will generate an equivalent sound pressure level in the womb of 65 dB - the same noise level you would experience in a noisy restaurant. These inside sounds are vivid - coupled directly to the child's ear drum through the liquid medium in the placenta. Noises from outside the womb are muffled by the tissue and muscles of the mother's belly. It is no wonder that an acoustically dampened, intimate sound environment - like the sound inside of a coat closet or under the covers in bed - will almost always produce a feeling of safety and comfort..."

"...Last night as I lay in my bed preparing myself for sleep I began hearing a light, periodic rasping sound from across the room. As I started to try to identify the source of this sound, a dog in my neighborhood started barking. This barking noise was prevailing on me from an open window just above my bed, so I was unable to clearly hear the rasping sound I was interested in. It seemed that just at the moment the rasping sound would commence, the dog would eject a few barks. This was incredibly annoying. I wanted the dog to shut up so I could determine if my bedroom had been invaded by some creature. Finally I had to rise and walk across the room, closer to the sound of the rasping. This move silenced the sound so I was never able to find out what it was.

"For me this incident and conditions that created it were an aberration. As I live in the country, my house is generally surrounded by quietness and the only sounds I hear from within my home come from the refrigerator. I can usually determine most of what I need to know about the safety of my home and the integrity of the "perimeter" from the sounds coming through the window above my bed - the approach of animals or people, the changes in the wind or rain, and the dawn chorus of birds signaling the beginning of a new day. This time something was inside the perimeter and I was unable to secure it for myself from my usual vantage point..."

"...African Shaman Maladoma SomÄ tells us that when a child is born in his village, all of the village men wait outside of the birthing hut. When the child issues his first cry of breath, all of the men of the village yell back in welcoming affirmation..."