Friday, August 08, 2008

Morning sounds and human behavior

Roosters typically start crowing around midnight, and stop about 11:59pm. If you're lucky enough, you can avoid hearing them for one full minute per day. I suppose the myth about roosters crowing at sunrise took hold because nothing else is making noise at 4:30 am except for those worthless birds. The rest of the day they are drowned out by diesel engines, dogs, cows, sound systems, drive by broadcasts and children.

As humans we appear genetically predisposed to mimicry, which is why you need to be careful what words you use around your offspring. When we age and mature the tendency to mimic doesn't seem to die very much; which is why it can be very easy to pick up a dialect. A certain amount of impulse control does develop in the more intelligent of our species; a judgment that says stop, wait, don't imitate that. No need.

As our van ambled up the dirt road at 5:30 am with the shrill crow of the rooster penetrating our opened windows, my first impulse was to crow back, but I stifled it. Others in our vehicle could not. Why is this? Is it why dogs howl at sirens? Why we cheer at football games? why we follow along with songs? Is it all just basic instinct mimicry unbridled by better judgment?

The one annoying sound that humans do not mimic is the aneurysm-causing earthquake of a baby's cry. Although, I think that if an adult could replicate that sound, we would, and people would give us money to stop. The closest we've managed to come to it is the trunk-filled sub-woofer.

Perhaps that's also why I have difficulty being around the Bus Stop People, those with uncontrollable tics, shakes, and repetitious body motions. There's nothing there I want to emulate and it sends a message of rejection through my core. Don't look at that! don't be THAT! don't mimic THAT ! We need positive influences in our lives to want to be better sometimes. I found little I wanted to emulate on the El Salvador part of this trip. Only perhaps our former professional surfer, who exhibited a greater depth of character, humility, grace and playfulness than one normally sees in surfers, was an inspiration.


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