Curious listening: an act of respect

I have a particular curiosity about sounds. As a child I spent time in many seasons listening to the noises of the night, especially when I walked the fields around the old farm house.walking through wheat field

Before the crops were harvested, my imagination was piqued by the whooshing my body made wading through waist high wheat fields or Kentucky blue grass. In the fall, I walked through plowed fields, attending to the crunch on the top of the dirt as my weight pressed through the fallow, muffled ears ringing with the silence. For the summer, I moved my bed over to the window where I could lay comfortably, head on my pillow where it sat on the paint-cracked window sill. It was a ritual, a liturgy of sorts, listening to the night … the barking of the dog, the frog chorus down by Hays Creek rising and falling through the night, the crickets hiding in the weeds by the barn, the bats whirring through the air between the house and the 3 story maple tree which emptied onto the roof in front of my window, and the occasional light breeze shaking the leaves.

When I was learning language, my self-descriptive word for water was “goglio”. This was the sound I heard when the tap water galumped slowly down the curves of the drain. In the car, I dubbed the turn signal, the “tick two” because of it’s sound. Even my mother used that label for years.

Curious listening is an act of respect. It encourages us to admire the way the world works. It can teach us to hold things loosely in our hands. It can teach us to let go of judgment and enjoy the amazing musicality of life.

My favorite modern poet, Mary Oliver says it well in her poem When Death Comes,

When it’s over, I want to say: all my life

I was a bride married to amazement

I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms

I want this to be me — all the way to the end.

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