Hearing Things

I’m still reading The Art of Seeing Things. I am not reading it, at my normal reading pace.  I like it very much.  I want to swim in it, twirl in it, let it wash over my mind and see what will unearth–like panning for precious gems, and I definitely want to hold onto it.

This morning’s chapter was about….well, I thought it was about birds.  I began to read it with only one cup of tea having been slurped into the body.  Those of you who know me at all will decidedly know that my skills at most anything, down several cups of tea, are…let us call them minimal.  Go ahead, raise your eyebrows now!  I read and reread sentence after sentence.

Birds, to me, are fascinating.  I love the surprise of catching them doing the things that they do with my eyes and I love hearing the sounds that they make.  I have what I consider a horrific deficit when it comes to birds.  The deficit makes me shudder and tell myself that part of me must be incompetent, or just seriously stuck.

A sort of aside: There are these people who can recall movie names, actors, directors, and even that they watched a particular film.  I am NOT one of them.  Apparently, this is not good for conversation’s sake, but I think it allows me a joy of newness, over and over again.  I am like this with birds.  I recall particular sounds when I hear them, but cannot make the sounds myself in order to determine a name of said species of bird.   Or my descriptions can go like this: you know that one that has the purple shimmering stuff on its back sort of like on a grackle but not a grackle? they attack my head?  I have yet to know what it is called.

I think that if I paid enough attention or watched long enough, I could do it like everyone else.  The book today began with a sort of poo-pooing of people like me.  Those who need to ask others for help to see or to hear a particular sound.  It may be that Burroughs was merely pointing out the differing motivations of having a wish, but I would have to assume, which often doesn’t have a very good outcome.    Along side it, was what came across to me, of how perception develops or doesn’t within context of the natural, normal, and habitual environment of the individual.  It is my opinion then, in working out my quandary over John Burroughs’ wording, that hearing a new thing suddenly can have more effect than what he suggests.  Besides, there was no such creature as sensory and auditory processing or discrimination when he was living.  I have decided that I got a wake-up slap in the face about having him on a pedestal and how much I still assume that others see and hear in the same way that I do.  The more I seem to notice it and smile in relief at finally understanding some difference, I am reminded again that my normal is normal, and that while I can share and walk alongside others, I can only appear to understand as best as I can through communication with them.

I cannot explain to those who cannot hear powerlines or waterlines under their feet, what it is like to hear them.  I can try to explain what it is like to hear someone pulling up the zipper of their pants in the bathroom twenty feet away that is equal to the sound of a Harley-Davidson going past outside.  Or that today, the sound of the television on 3 is the same as it was yesterday on 30, and I’m out in the kitchen two rooms away.  Or, how, being overloaded from the increased hearing, I shut down and have to read someone’s lips in order to understand what they are saying to me.

I’m thanking Mr. Burroughs’ for his thought provocation.  I appreciated being transported to the Tree Place in Spring in order to listen as I read what he wrote.  I thought about the other things that I can hear, that others often cannot.  How alone I feel.  How afraid to speak in an average way about it, to fully express who and what I am.  Don’t worry!  I will not make the mistake that I have made in the past when I am strongly reminded of the differences between self and others.  I once asked to just be without this ability for a day or two, so that I would be normal.  HA!  What a horrible mistake.  It was the MOST AWFUL experience of my life.  I hope never to be in despair enough to forget it and wish for it again!

I must say that I feel very sorry for those that cannot see and cannot hear.  It is often the very very depressed or the very very, what I call dead, that speak of not being able to do it.  However does one know if one is as one is, because one ought to be, and when one simply needs to notice and observe to notice that one does have this thing or that thing after all.  Who gets to decide what is of a person’s nature and what is really obtained and what is created and false, in order to fit-in?  So many thinks to think in eight short pages.  I am not done yet.  Nor do I feel settled.  There may or may not be more on this, unless I move on to the next thing in front of me!

About Elisa

I love reading, writing, poetry, photography and cooking and and and...!!! "It gives me strength, almost unbelievable strength, to know that you are there. I covet your eyes, your ears, the collapsible space between us. How blessed are we to have each other? I am alive and you are alive and so we must fill the air with our words." - Dave Eggers
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2 Responses to Hearing Things

  1. Kathy says:

    Elisa, you continually surprise and amaze me. What it must be like to live as “you”! What it must be like to live as other people…we really haven’t a clue, have we? And how people who process and experience differently than others have so many challenges when trying to fit in with the cultural norm. (If there even is a cultural norm…maybe we only think there is.) I remembered your blog last night and wanted to find it again. (It’s in my Favorites.) Then on FB you said something about writing about hearing and I came over to see. (Get the pun?)

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