When I was a child I had an annoying habit of making sounds. Nonsensical noises came out of my mouth. I would hum, make clicking sounds or pop, pop, pop. I would tap walls as I walked by. It drove my mother mad. Figuratively not literally!
Often I would hear my mother say “If you keep pursing your lips like that they may stay!” The idea of going around with my lips in the kissing formation was a sobering thought. But it was hard to stop. When friends at school started turning around at my odd noises, I pretty well suspended that portion of my higher education. The teachers never knew where the sounds came from. I wasn’t about to tell!
Move ahead a few decades. I have never had a singing voice. Speaking or sound effects, yes. That I can do. I joined the choir in high school but when it was decided that everyone should have a chance to shine by singing a solo, I quit. I love to sing but not where anyone could hear me! I have spent many great hours singing in my car with the windows up. I would sing with wild abandon, when I was alone.
Move ahead a few decades. No longer driving a car, I no longer sing. But I also find I have a lower tolerance for sound. And as quiet as my apartment may be, it ain’t silent! As I sit at my computer I can hear a couple of clocks ticking, I can hear the fans moving quietly blowing cool air through my apartment. My refrigerator works through the cycle and it starts to hum for a few seconds. It’s not really aggravating, it’s just there, like a white noise.
Now I’m starting to listen carefully. I can hear the cars go by on the street below my window. I can hear people talking, or perhaps it’s one person talking on phone. I can hear the wind whistling through the few trees that are close by. I like that sound. If I’m very quiet I can hear a faint roar from the highway that is not too far away. Occasionally I can hear a train. I love trains. Depending on the time of day the birds can be quite active down here. In the morning it’s the songbirds. Midafternoon, the gulls. They are quite noisy! Oh, there it is: the ubiquitous beep, beep, beep, a truck backing up. I hate that!
These are sounds from a first world country. There is affluence here and people are happy (mostly). I hear car alarms and laughter, I hear shouting and cell phone rings. I don’t hear gunfire or tsunamis. I don’t hear angry protests or children crying from fear and hunger. I wonder if people who are deaf actually experience real silence. I wonder what it would be like to experience that. I wonder about a lot of things. Sometimes it’s quite scary!