Lend me your ears!

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Today is National Day of Listening. What an interesting concept! Do we all listen in the same way – or even interpret this unique and obscure holiday in a similar fashion?

For the past year I have experienced a ringing in my ears – a probable side effect from treatments. The ringing is called tinnitus – and after a year I still haven’t figured out how to pronounce it. If I say TIN-it-tus, it sounds like a Latin philosopher, spouting profound comments while wearing a toga and peeling grapes. If I say tin-I-tus, I conjure up visions of an aging hobo, playing harmonica and stewing rabbits in coffee cans. Neither fits what I am hearing. The sound is like a tuning fork without the initial clang; just the constant, smooth vibration of sound afterward. And it kind of plays into the old “if a tree falls in the woods” question, because the sound is something that no one else can hear.

So on this Day of Listening, I am going to tell you about the other sounds I hear that allow me to embrace this particular one and accept it as part of my senses. I hear the sounds of Main St. just steps from my porch; police and ambulance sirens; the almost clownish squawks and squeaks of car security systems; and the chatter of people as they go back and forth to work or to do day to day tasks. Tuesday is garbage pickup day, and my 7:00 alarm. These aren’t obnoxious sounds to me, but reminders of the energy around me. The sounds of honking are minimal here – in Vermont, the general thought is to be patient and allow others a bit of courtesy while driving. Instead, I hear conversations sprinkled with laughter, and many wishes of “good morning” when passing strangers on the street.

At night my dog howls out every now and then – for moments in her dreams she is decidedly a sleek wolf calling out to Dog Star in the light of a full moon. I hear the ring of my cell phone; the voices of friends and the gifts of their deep or funny or informative, but always loving conversations. Even the sudden beep of the breadmaker is a happy sound, sending soft puffs of yeast breath into the kitchen.

So you see, hearing the philosopher hobo in my head is a small trade for all of that, and there is so much more I haven’t listed. But I am going to hand it over to you. What happiness do you hear?

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2 responses »

  1. How appropriate that this is National Listening Day as I begin teaching a class on Tuesday titled “Clear Communication.” And, of course, listening is a huge part of communication. I love introducing people to all the senses we use when truly listening

    Right now I hear the hum of the house heat, a new sound as the temps just got low enough to have it on in the evening and through the night. A sound that will probably not be here during the day when the sun is out and the grand & great-grandkids are running in and out and leaving the door open. Then I hear their laughter and complaints (he won’t share), all part of the joyous sounds of family.

    I live in the city on a residential street, a quiet cul-de-sac of brick ranch style homes built over 50 years ago. I hear small planes flying low as I am not far from the airport. Fortunately, the jets are too high to give any sound when they go over. We are tucked in here in a way that the sirens and such, although heard, seem a bit distant. I love my street and neighborhood. If I’m outdoors at rush hour, the hum of the freeway traffic almost sounds like the ocean surf – one of my favorite things to hear!

    And birds! Birds gather in my orange tree at all hours to chat and sing. Once when I couldn’t sleep, I taped the bird song at 11:30pm.

    I’ve never been one to have the TV or radio on at home as I enjoy the “silence” and whatever natural sounds are happening at any moment. Oftentimes that opens me to my inner voice, bringing inspiration or a new idea, and reminding me to be thankful for the beautiful gift of listening.

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