Every summer, for an entire weekend, Stratford hosts a blues festival.
It takes place in the band shell right across the river from our apartment. The music is loud. And, because the band shell faces away from the apartment, the sound flows out before bouncing back across the water. So what you end up with is a bunch of loud, nearly incomprehensible noise.
Or that’s what it sounded like to me. I could, if I listened carefully, pick out a melody. And with the louder acts, I could even hear a few words.
But I didn’t want to listen carefully. I just wanted to spend my weekend in peace. The music was really loud and I kept thinking, “There’s no need for it to be that loud!!” So, yeah, I’m basically turning into my mother every way I can, tutting and sighing at all that noise.
Meanwhile, Blues Fest is wailing away, mangling all kinds of songs with screaming guitars and singalongs. I mean, in what dystopian alternate universe is Love Shack a blues anthem? With feedback and reverb. Shouldn’t be allowed. Tsk tsk tsk.
It was at that point in my internal ranting that I knew I had to take a big step back. Other people were loving the weekend and the bands. Lots of other people, if the cheering was anything to go by. The weather was gorgeous and the crowds were huge.
One of the things I love about city living is the diversity of the people, their backgrounds and taste in music. I won’t like everything that’s available to me here. Blues Fest is not my thing, though if I’m ever well enough to go down there and sit in front of the band shell, I might have a different opinion.
I’m more of a galleries and restaurants person. People who don’t enjoy those things don’t need to partake. We can all find something to enjoy in this little city of ours.
I truly believe that the more we allow for each others’ differences, even or especially when it means putting up with things that annoy us, the better our community will be.
Yes, it’s important to find your people, the ones who share your interests, the ones who get you. But to truly develop as a full human being, you need to be available for the opposing viewpoints, to at least live alongside people and activities that it might not occur to you to find, all on your own, even if sometimes those people, those activities annoy you.
Not everything, not all the time, of course. Blues Fest is one weekend a year and the music and noise of the crowd, while I may allow myself to not appreciate it, is not threatening in any way.
The noise of our last tenants having twelve hour long screaming matches with the occasional throwing of objects made me feel unsafe. No amount of deep breathing and reminding myself that it takes all kinds to make a world was going to change that. I needed to get away from them, so we sold the house and moved. There’s a difference between a temporary annoyance and a long-term threat to your mental health and/or physical safety.
So I will learn to smile at the variety offered by events like Blues Fest while being extremely grateful for the peace that reigns within our apartment building.
And by next summer, I’ll likely be the happy owner of a set of noise-cancelling earbuds. Just in case.