Monday, May 17, 2010

Listening in and lovin' it!

On Saturday, I woke up at 5:11 a.m. Just on my own, just like that. I looked around at Miss Mouse and my hubby sleeping soundly and I fought hard to go back to sleep. As I lay back on my pillow I heard the call of the male red-winged blackbird that regularly visits our bird feeder. I have to admit, my first thought was:

Shut the *expletive* up bird, its 5 friggin am!

Then I stopped and listened. It’s really a beautiful trilling kind of song that pierces the silence. (If you want to listen for yourself you can go to It made me think of being at a cabin somewhere in cottage country, somewhere expansive and serene. Then suddenly I felt relaxed.

So I started thinking about how I often take my ability to hear for granted and how sound is really a sensation, not unlike a smell that can evoke a pleasant memory or a caress that can instantly soothe. I think human beings are more attached to the visual (and men more so, just look at the vitality of internet porn as an example) and we don’t give our just due to the auditory pleasures. I decided instead of trying to shut the blackbird up with my mental powers I would focus instead on listening in to more of the world.

First, I listened to the sleeping noises of my family and instantly my heart warmed. Nothing is as sweet and peaceful as your loved ones snoozing blissfully nearby even if they all slightly snore (yes even the hounds snore –lucky me!) Then I focused on the gentle hum of the humidifier and the sounds of our home in those early morning hours. If one listens to the sounds of a house, it can almost feel like a living, breathing being on its own. It’s marvellous.

It was a transforming experience of awareness as I started tuning in to the tones and tunes of life all around me that weekend.

I continued in the garden; weeding, transplanting and trimming. With my new hearing prowess, I felt like I could almost hear the plants growing (well certainly rustling against me) and the bugs hard at work (and definitely buzzing around my ears) and even the worms pushing through the earth. I could hear the water seep into the black soil and struggle to get through the hard clay underneath and I most certainly heard the whizzing bomb dropping-like sound of the bird pooping on my shoulder and all down my arm (along the peals of laughter from my watching hubby –thanks babe!)

Even on my walk with the Mouse and the hounds I started to notice that it wasn’t just the lush, verdant landscape that I look forward to in the nearby park we frequent, it is also the accompanying sounds of being there: all the birds calling out and answering each other, the vibrating croak of the toads in the swamp, the Canada Geese shaking their feathers after diving for breakfast, the hum of the insects in the bush, the wind sneaking through the dried grasses and rustling them and the background sounds of the children playing on the swing set.

Since then I have tried to think about how sound is so full of emotion and capable of bringing great joy. In fact, Miss Mouse got her nickname from those first two weeks in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) where she made the cutest little squeaks and peeps, just like a wee mouse. My husband and I adored just listening to her through the din of the beeping machines and the chatter of the NICU nurses. It was like magic to our ears and we often just stopped to listen to her.

So in honour of our sensory friend, hearing, I listed some of my favourite sounds:

• The sound of Miss Mouse sleeping peacefully, her gentle sighs and sometimes
slight snores
• The suckling sound (and motion) she sometimes she makes as she sleeps
• Her infectious, giggly laughter
• They way she says “Oooooooooooooooooooooo” now when she sees something she likes or is novel
• Anytime she says “Ma-ma”
***Okay, let’s be honest I could write tomes on the sounds I love from the Mouse so let’s just leave it at every single, little, big, wee, long, frequent, rare, loud or soft sound she makes (even as it relates to a bodily function) and then I can move on***
• The sound of the key turning in the door when my hubby comes home
• Hearing relief in someone’s voice after I’ve explained something to them or comforted them
• Big, fat raindrops hitting the roof and windowpane when I am snug and warm instead
• The crack of opening a new hardcover novel (especially if it’s a library book and then it has the added auditory joy of the crinkle of the plastic cover)
• Waves crashing, particularly if I am sitting on the beach listening
• The pop of a red wine bottle opening (well, when they used to have corks)
• A familiar voice on the phone when you feel alone and scared
• Laughter I caused (whether by telling a joke or simply getting pooped on)
• Hearing my mother’s jazzy, slightly reggae version of “Itsy Bitsy Spider” sung to Miss Mouse (it always makes me smile especially the ending –it’s a classic)
• Turning on the radio and hearing the first few bars of the song I was just singing in my head
• The sizzle of ribs grilling on the BBQ
• The rhythmic panting and sound of the hounds; eight paws hitting the pavement
• The click of the kettle signalling its ready for that much needed cup of tea
• Hearing someone start a juicy story
• Pots and pans clanging when someone else is making dinner for me
• Tuning into my own breath and listening as I inhale and exhale (very soothing)

Tuning in this weekend has been a joy, I’ve begun to look at the world in a whole new way and I am going to continue my list. So on behalf of ears everywhere, please be kind. They are more than just holders for iPod earphones or cell phone headsets or for blaring loud rock music (unless that brings you joy and then by all means blare away); they are portals to new joys. Listen in; the world is waiting for you.

What sounds bring you joy?


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