The first night I heard “sounds” I thought it was in my head. I was up and down in the carriage house loft I’d just moved into behind my sister’s house and I didn’t think twice. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I was just too busy to take notice.
And then, a few days after New Year’s when things were more settled, I was lying in bed one night when I began to hear the faint sounds. First ever so slightly, then a rhythm began…..a thump, thump, thump past my window every 15 seconds or so. It was a sound that had a precise timing….I could hear it as if “in a circle.” At first I was afraid, fearing some weird turn of events. I was, after all, living in a domicile that with its main house, had been built in the 1920’s. Maybe this was “the ghost of tenants past.” Finally, I could wait no longer. As the window above my bed on that side of the loft was boarded up, I’d have to go outside to investigate. I was scared at first, but then curiosity got the best of me. So, sneaking out with a flashlight, I peaked through a hole in the fence into my neighbor’s yard and low and behold, this is what I saw: The neighbor’s teenage son was running laps around his back yard and treading just under my window, making a thumping sound in the dirt. No need to call GHOSTBUSTERS here… Darn.
The next day I happened to be taking out the garbage at the same time as the teen’s mother and so I struck up a conversation. I learned that the boy was my neighbor’s 13 yr old autistic son. His parents had found that letting him run laps every evening before bedtime helped calm him down enough to fall asleep. She explained that they had started doing this in the summer, but as rituals were very important to him and the running had such a calming effect, they let him continue even in cold weather.
As the nights passed and I became aware of his running (precisely at 1030pm—you could set your watch by it), I was surprised at how soothing it became. The rhythm of his feet pattering by my window was a welcome sound for me, knowing he was just “doing his thing.” I was usually upstairs writing at that time, so I began to feel that he truly had become my muse, as I always felt inspired by the sounds I heard—like I had a connection to the creative universe… a sense of humanity “off the beaten path” but as sacred and vital as breathing. He had become my “human metronome”….
In that winter, I had learned a great lesson: “Don’t be afraid to investigate strange noises that go thump, thump, thump in the night. Sometimes they may just be there to teach you a lesson beyond your imagination. ~ Mick E. ~