I have this big, brown comfy couch in my mediation room. That room is super clean, super quiet and super peaceful. It’s got a sliding door that faces the backyard where you can see birds hopping, squirrels skittering and bees aflying. Not too long ago, I was lying on the couch listening to many different kinds of tweeting from the birds. It really is sweet that I know now that it’s possible to tell what kind of bird it is just by their singing~ although, I’m not able to name them yet. Nevertheless, the sounds of bird brought a funny memory for me.
You see, in this photo is one of my closest friend, Julia.
Julia is a total bird lover. You can be having the most philosophical conversation with her, and then, suddenly her eyes will thwart upwards to look at the birds. Birds do that to her~ make her freeze mid-sentence anytime she hears a tweet~ and then she’ll name that bird as if her long time friend.
She’s also my brave traveling partner~ we’ve traveled to many places that people wouldn’t dare to tread on.
We were on the beach in Costa Rica~ and I didn’t have my hearing processors on and talking to her through lip-reading. Of course, through one of our conversations, she stopped mid-sentence to look up and pointed at some large birds~ she seemed so excited, “Look, they’re friggin’ birds!” I thought that was such a weird thing to say so I repeated after her to get clarification, “Friggin’ birds?” Oh how, she laughed~ those birds are called “frigate birds”. It’s so easy to misunderstand words when you’re only lip-reading.
On another trip, in Panama, we went hiking up a very steep hill that was overrun with wild, yet beautiful green plantation to look for a coffee shop. Along the way, there were many sounds~ but they all seemed to be one big sound and I wasn’t aware that they were really many different sounds happening at the same time. We did eventually find the coffee shop~ and there was a sign that said to go back in the opposite direction we had come from and look for red tree frogs. They would be by a tree. Well, there were many trees and these frogs are so small, you wouldn’t really notice them just by walking. I asked Julia how we were supposed to find these frogs~ she explained that you have to listen for them. I asked further by finding out what they sound like. She made the sound, “Brrup, brrup, brrup…” A few steps later, I was able to recognize the sound~ and I stopped to squat down. Sure enough, there it was!!! My first time ever finding something by sound! It was an awesome, awesome feeling~ especially because I found it before her.
Then, I had a deeper realization~ what if this blob of a sound has more to it? I asked Julia to tell me all the sounds that were happening at that moment. You could see the look of concentration on her face, “That’s the wind….that’s the leaves moving…that’s the horses neighing…that’s the ocean…” As she would point out one sound at a time, I was then able to slow take the one sound apart into many different components. It was a pretty powerful moment~ a sudden realization that all these years, it was never a blob of one sound. That new awareness has opened my eyes (or ears) to a whole new level of life~ this would be the blessing of hearing noises.