Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Symphonic Sound

I heard the symphony play the other night at our local outdoor theater. I'd had a busy day, a busy week, and I was overtired. It was my first free evening in days and all I wanted to do was go home, put on my nubbiest cotton pjs and climb in bed for a blissful 12 hours. But very little will keep me away from the symphony and the magical, blissful sounds that emanate from their instruments.

When it comes to the five senses, hearing seems to be my most acute sense. Touch is right up there with hearing, then sight, then taste, then smell. No, I don't have the most powerful nose on the planet, but I do have a friend with such frightful ability to sniff out funky smells that I'm afraid to approach her if I have chanced to eat some garlic or even perspire in the last twenty-four hours. And I can't smell breakfast on people like one not-to-be-mentioned brother can. (Does everyone in the world have this ability besides me?)

But when it comes to hearing and sound, the gods have blessed me with copious auditory abilities. At least that is what I hear. :)

For instance, in high school and junior high, I watched siblings and friends get ready for school listening to the local radio station. I thought that was so cool. I tried it many, many times thinking if I could just listen to the same radio station that I would somehow be invested with a "coolness" factor that I felt was missing in my life. Yet, no matter how many times I tried to listen to the radio, I only ended up with a headache. The static on the radio annoyed me. I didn't like the band playing. The words of the song were nonsensical. The music made me depressed. It could have been one or all of these things, but listening to the radio for most of my life has been an exercise in frustration.

In high school, my bedroom was right next to the family room--or TV central. I don't know if it was a house with ten people, or others' poor hearing, or just simply a preference, but whenever the TV was on it seemed to be punched up to volume SUPER LOUD. And that bugged me to pieces. I couldn't sleep, concentrate, study, or even think if I could hear the TV blaring in the background. I was constantly asking people to turn down the TV. (On a sidenote, that is one of my brother-in-law Spencer's many virtues: he can watch TV with the sound almost muted. I love that about him.)

After my freshman year in college, I lived with my grandparents for the summer. Living there was a revelation to me. For the first time in my life, I lived in a house with less than six occupants. The diminished noise level was a new-found nirvana to me. I had no idea how anxious and stressed lots of noise made me previous to this summer. I couldn't believe how calm I felt. How much I learned about myself that summer. How many decisions I made for my future. And it all seemed connected to the peace and quiet that had overtaken my life. After that summer, I really started to cherish my ears and what they had been telling me my whole life: pay attention to the noise around you and cut out the bad while welcoming the good.

And some of that good sound came on my 21st birthday. My parents' took me to the symphony for that birthday. I must have requested it because I don't believe either of them had ever been. We sat clear up on the third balcony above the crowd and waited. I had no idea what to expect. I just knew that I needed to hear the symphony. And what took place for me was nearly two hours of sheer serenity. It was an orgy for my ears. I felt thrilled and devastated all at once. I never knew what such beautiful, beautiful music could do for me and I'd spent my entire life up to that point not knowing.

I vowed a vow that day to never miss such an opportunity again. (Okay, so really, the vow was more that I would make my very best effort to get to the symphony as much as possible.)

So, I prodded myself out the door on Monday night and went to listen to the symphony under the stars. I'm so happy I did. My ears sent me paroxsyms of delight.


Lori Sume said...

I was there too! Christine and Mark sat by me too. We had a great time. Too bad we didn't know you were there. We could have saved a place for you. It was a great night!

Rus said...

I've had paroxsyms before too. They were very painful.

Eden said...

Lori--I would have sat by all of you that night if I had known. Wasn't the music beautiful?

Rus--I wrote that word JUST for you. I knew as soon as I typed it out that you would get a kick out of my high drama.

Christine said...

I'm so sad we didn't know you were there. I looked for you, but I should have called. We were way down on the other side in general seating. It would have been fun to visit!

And I now have to go look up paroxsyms, what a strange word.

Kristin said...

I have just had one of those days and everyone is finally in bed and asleep and I thought I need to unwind a little before bed or sleep will never come. Nothing helps me unwind like reading something that is just fun to read and this was it for me tonight so THANKS for writing!

Eden said...

Christine--use I'm on that site every day and love it. Favorite of any editor around.

Kristin--you have no idea how grateful I am for your words today. I wonder sometimes if my writing is reaching anyone. Nice to hear that it is.

Cissy said...

What a delightful, introspective. I have never thought about my strongest sense and now I want to contemplate that.

L & H & Q & E said...

I agree -- I *hate* noise. One reason I wanted a small family -- I'm not kidding. This is the reason I am instantly stressed when a baby cries. I know the baby will be okay, I just can't take the noise! It's *super* important to me that my house be quiet and peaceful.


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