Listen to life’s real sounds
October 7, 2005
Clouds knock the muffled, rolling thunder around, similar to the clacking of a soft break on an after-midnight pool table, or the slow-motion rattle of bowling pins as they bounce without energy after a gentle roll of the ball. The ground is already wet and the sky grim, but the deliberate thunder gives me feelings of great comfort. Sometimes, along a narrow, hidden trail, you can tell the rain is coming solely from the sound as it approaches. The drops hammer the ground, creating a hum of natural activity, sending mud and water back toward the sky, creating the wonderment of how many droplets they must explode into as they kamikaze themselves against the needles of a pine forest. The intensity never seems to sustain itself for long, and soon the delicate roar softens to a slow drip. Thoughts come and go, and suddenly I’m back in a little mountain cabin, nestled in warm covers with the woman of my dreams in the middle of a dark day, listening to the thunder rock around the black sky and feeling cozy and supercharged by our energy. Soon, rain will pound the tin roof again, and we’ll close the minuscule gap between us, one more time. Her breathing intensifies, eventually caught up in the deeper, more powerful and guttural but absolutely feminine expression of an uncontrollable release, deep within the physical. Such extremely pleasurable and delightful sounds cannot be mimicked in any other fashion than that which brings them forth and hasten me to my own expressions of ultimate pleasure, sounds of the same indication.On a clear day, the wild birds sing; I don’t mean the ones around our houses, the black-billed magpies, swallows and such. I’m writing of the vesper sparrows, hawks and others that are truly wild and grace the forest with the cry of their songs, the birds I try to share the sky with when my heart is broken, the ones who can brazenly wake you in the morning with their enthusiasm for the coming day, but who, at the end of the same day, slowly sign off one by one, species by species, until at last there is silence. Your eyes drop and your pulse slows, until the roosting birds feel your presence in their nocturnal rest. If you ride horses, or hike with friends, there is a certain, strangely human catharsis in knowing that you heard the elk bugle before your horse or the other hikers. Or maybe you just heard the surprised snort as some unseen wild creature zeroed in on your footfall first and paused for that wondrous microsecond to assess the danger before crashing through the underbrush. An experienced golfer knows by the sound whether it’s a good ball long before his eye can track the trajectory and I’m sure I’d miss the almost-silent glissading hiss my skis make, edge against bottomless powder, each time we snake through a good stash. Remember the days of closeness, sharing and your last true romance? Your lady friend left you alongside the road of life and you wonder why. Something bothers you, but what is it? Had you listened, you would have noticed that somewhere along the way, the spontaneous laughter you used to share so precisely on beat, had become, from her side, a second too late to matter. What I’m distinctly saying is, put the iPod or MP3 (or motorized toys) back on the upper shelf once-in-a-while and listen to the honest and nonreproducible sounds of the world around you. You may learn a little more about the universe, yourself, or perhaps someone else. Tony Vagneur realizes he might be a better piano player if he listened to more music. Read him here on Saturdays and send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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