Letter to the Editor: Sound Bytes 

By: Meg Sturm

 

So many sounds.  They are everywhere.  We can’t even begin to count the sounds that we hear all around us.  We are surrounded constantly by them.   They interrupt everything. They come from the world around us like an unending marching band showing no sign in stopping.

The news.  What is it today?  Is it news on Covid? Are we hearing how many people we have lost in our country, in our world?   It seems to never end.  Turn the TV on every morning, walk through your kitchen and ask Alexa to play the news.   How many more people lost their lives?   How many people are waiting and hoping for the vaccine? Then, a commercial.  It seems to play louder than the program we were just hearing.  Good grief, why does it need to be so loud?  So, what is on the commercial slate for today?  Is it a commercial of lawyers, urging you call if you have been negatively affected by a medication you have taken?  Is it a commercial about how your skin is aging and what you absolutely need to do to the remedy it and by the way, do it now!  You don’t have a minute to lose if you’re not going to become an old goat walking around this world actually showing people that you have been here for a while, thank the Lord.  Or perhaps, you watch and hear the commercial that seems to be 15 minutes long, you know the one, it’s about how many dogs are unloved, uncared for, suffering, starving and alone.  

The news continues to crash in our ears as we listen.  Trump, Biden, left, right, please make it stop, it is exhausting our souls.  We have sounds from our job, in our own house, kids complaining that life is not being fair right now.  They can’t physically go to school; they can’t go out and do the fun things that they used to do.  So very unfair, they’re life is so very unfair.  And you hear it, your ears sting with thoughts of possibly, “you don’t know how lucky you actually are” or you hear yourself say for the hundredth time, “things will go back to normal soon.”

Too many sounds. Way too many.  But what if we took the time to step away from all those sounds and find a place, a space, to just listen to hear nothing from around us, but work on a quiet place within us.  Impossible?  No, it is there waiting for us.  

I wake this morning with an unusual empty house.  Quiet is all around.  Nice.  So nice.  Then, that ol’ crashing wave again.  I lay listing all my woes, everything on the to-do list, and everything that I can’t fix.  Then I realize, that it is just more noise.   Stop girl, time to just stop.  So, lots of deep breathes, let me ground myself, let me hear quiet, instead of sounds.  So, after much effort and several minutes, it’s happening.  I can hear the quiet. My mind is starting to calm and seems to take off a too-tight seat belt that you sometimes feel in the car when you hit the brakes.  For me, it sounded like this.  I could hear my breathing.  I could hear my aching heart thanking me for union break.  Then, my mind went deeper.  I could hear the blowing wind of the graveyard where my father-in-law was laid to rest in April, stupid Covid.  I could hear that wind that day in my mind.  It sounds like the earth breathing, like big gulps of cold, fresh air from its ancient lungs.  Thank you old wind for the calm.  I hear that sound.  I hear the sound of my husband’s hand rubbing my arm; his hands, finger nails and all, are scratchy, dry, weathered from work and life, and the rubbing sound on my arm that he is making is rough, and beautiful to me.  I can hear the sound in my mind of music from the church I used to physically sit it, pre-Covid, and it is solemn, reverent, and connecting.  Is that now the sound of my soul? The soul I have been carrying around since birth?  The one that I shut out because it’s too buried under life’s noise?  

What would you be able to hear if you shut out the noise?  The distant recollection of your grandfather’s voice?  The incredible sound of joy when you held your baby for the first time, when the hospital room went silent in your head, and you could hear love, actually hear it, like angels singing from a new little baby in your arms.  Can you hear your faith deep inside?  Try, is speaking.  Mine is saying, ‘you are held by something so much larger; I’ve got you, relax.

How lovely all these things sound.  They are treasures and gifts that we jeopardize losing is we continually let our lives be overthrown with other sounds.   These sound gems are sustaining, restoring, and renewing.  What an amazing practice it would be if we all could find that place, that space in each of us to hear sounds that don’t create worry and concern, but create calm, love, and peace.  That the more we sit within our own quiet, the easier it will be to hear those sounds and connect to your core, your breathe, your heart.  This is not an easy practice, I know.  But crucial to our human experience.  

So off goes the Tv this morning, off goes Alexa, off goes news radio and everything else that is life-sucking, soul-sucking, noise.  For even if it is a small amount of time and space that we can find a place for this tapping into our human sounds, our heart sound, or life sounds, lets us count them as gems from deep within our own personal earth, like the sound of a gentle, quiet underground stream ever flowing for that is the true sounds of our lives.

 

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