Recently I began taking sign language classes to better communicate with the hearing impaired. During the first session, the instructor asked us to think about sounds that we associate with waking up in the morning. While members of the class chimed in with a variety of answers, I thought about how strange it would be to live in a silent world.
In today’s society, we are flooded with noise – car radios, traffic sounds, birds chirping, construction equipment, lawn mowers, people talking, public address announcements and more. We often block out as much of this noise as we can in order to stay focused on the day’s goals. But maintaining our tunnel vision has its costs. Are we missing the soundtrack of life?
While I’m often visually inspired (despite being visually impaired — go figure), I make a point to not forget about my other senses. We have five (touch, sight, taste, smell, hearing) for a reason; they all contribute to our life experiences.
Our sense of hearing opens a whole new world to us. Helen Keller, the renowned American author, political activist and lecturer who was both blind and deaf, thought deafness to be even more of a setback than blindness due to the power of sound.
“…[Deafness] means the loss of the most vital stimulus–the sound of the voice that brings language, sets thoughts astir and keeps us in the intellectual company of man.”
Have you ever stopped to think about not being able to have a verbal discussion with a colleague or client? About not being able to listen to that song that takes you back to a memorable moment in your life? Not being able to take in the sounds of nature to soothe your soul?
Our sense of hearing is a vital part of communication. It allows us to listen to others, hear their concerns and ideas, and react accordingly. Is it any surprise that the ability to listen has become a rare, sought after skill in today’s drowned out world?
The next time you’re tempted to stick your head in the sand, stop and listen. Listen to the world around you and what it has to say. Listen to a friend or colleague during lunch instead of burying yourself in your phone. Listen to the person on the other end of the phone — across town or the world — instead of checking email or watching TV. Listen to the birds chirping. Listen to your inner voice. Listen.
You just might be amazed at what you hear.
Your Turn — I’m Listening
What song or sound takes you back to ‘that’ moment?
What sounds make you smile?
What’s the most annoying sound in the world?
Who’s someone you love to talk –and listen — to when you’re stuck?
Do poor listeners turn you off?
When’s the last time you’ve just stopped and listened to what’s around you?
Photo courtesy of Luis Miguel Bugallo Sánchez via a Creative Commons License
Helen Keller quoted from Helen Keller in Scotland: a personal record written by herself, edited by James Kerr Love (London: Methuen & Co., 1933).