Air conditioning probably seems a strange topic to talk about. It has been on my mind lately since we just had ac installed in our home. And though we have only lived in this house (and therefore without ac ) for about a year I have become aware of some of the absolutely wonderful things not having air conditioning has given me.
Our house is positioned in such a way that pleasant breezes are easily found. I live with the windows open as often as possible and now find comfort in the sounds of the world around me. People opening and shutting their car doors, lawn mowers, kids chatting, or screaming or giggling about who knows what, the sound of birds, wind, cars driving past, feet walking...there are countless sounds outside and something amazingly tranquil about letting those sounds waft into your home. There is a world happening and far too often when we shut our windows all we are left to hear and think about is our own little lives.
Only a handful of people use their front porches where I live. WHY?! My guess would be that from the vantage point of an ac filled house the front porch might seem a little sticky and hot. I get that feeling-that ac induced belief that anywhere without ac is misery incarnate. Without the lure of ac the front porch quickly becomes another room in the house. Few things feel as luxurious as sitting on a porch. And I really mean just sitting there. It feels like vacation (probably because the only time many of us do it, and when I say do it I mean fully take in the pleasure of it) is on vacation. Shame on us. Porches should be used as often as possible, especially because the more we are outside without defined agendas the more we actually interact with the humans we live by. But I will try not to get on that soap box right now.
I have learned to appreciate how open windows force both self awareness and awareness of others. I have heard my neighbor chatting away on a business phone call, a baby boy crying as his mother attempts to rock him to sleep in their backyard, college students screaming late in the night over some crazy dare...and it reminds me that people are living lives around me. I know this sounds obvious but how often do you stop and think about the people going about their day to day in the house next door to you, or across the street from you? I rarely use to think about it. Now I see it as a win when I am reminded of lives being lived around me. It connects me with them even though I am in a separate house. I like sharing the contentment of my neighbors as she gently sings to herself while looking over her flower garden, or the bond I feel with every mother wrangling her children out of the car, attempting to get to music lessons on time. The sounds remind me of how human we all are.
The reality that I can hear others forces the truth that others can hear me as well. How do I sound? Did everyone just hear me yell at my daughter about that silly thing? Do our house sounds lift others' spirits or make them cringe? It is good to reminded that the world can see you and the choices you make. Be they wonderful or horrible, be they selfless or selfish....we like to pretend we can insulate our lives enough that only when we want to be seen and observed we can be. I mean who wants to be the mom seen crying over the hurdles of the day, or the person gossiping about so and so-no we like to come outside polished, put together and near perfect. And we aren't. I am thankful not having ac has taught me a bit more about myself and the people I live by. Now go open up some windows.