A miracle, in my books, is an unexpected occurrence that causes a wonderful, however small, change in your life. Forever, for a day or even just for a moment.
The hearing of sounds can be that kind of miracle.
Lately I’ve been too focused on the roadblocks on the typical hearing loss journey. You know the ones I mean, like expensive, imperfect hearing technology. Other humans who don’t communicate in the way we need. Overwhelming background noise. And perhaps the biggest roadblock – our emotional frustration with the Hearing Gods for zapping us with hearing loss in the first place.
I live this stuff and I write about it. All the time. Perhaps what’s compounding my slightly negative mood: advocate extraordinaire Shari Eberts and I are in the very last, final, this-is-it, definitely-no-more-changes-allowed proofing stage of our upcoming book, Hear & Beyond: Live Skillfully with Hearing Loss. When you’ve read a 250-page manuscript over and over and over again, it can make you cross-eyed and just plain cross, even though it’s your own guide to living better with hearing loss.
But yesterday, after hitting ‘send’ with our final few corrections, I was rewarded with some hearing moments that stunned me, sound-miracles I don’t always hear and definitely didn’t hear in my pre-cochlear implant (CI) days. (I’m assuming that other people experience these too because I’m just your average HoH.)
It was on a beach walk at Morro Bay, California, where the hearing husband and I are camping. My hiking hat was jammed down on my head to keep my sound processor (and my hair) from blowing out to sea. But it took on the role of a third pinna, those rather ridiculous-looking masses of cartilage on the sides of our head that collect sound and shoot it down our ear canal. (Note: the pinna on my cochlear implant side is decorative only, a place to hang earrings and the silver ear cuff attached to my processor.) But the hat put its shoulder to the wheel, pushing the cries of gulls and sandpipers into my hearing technology – rendering the sound clear and unobscured by the sounds of waves. I felt as if they were cawing directly to me! When the birds flew off, the waves increased in volume, kindly almost drowning out my tinnitus.
On Morro Bay beach, the sand changes from soft dunes to the hard surface recently occupied by the surf. Billions of sand-grains rubbed together, taking on an array of sound-personalities that seemed new to me. I was reminded of my friend Myrtle who, shortly after receiving her CI, embarrassed her nephew in public by joyfully dancing the twist in a patch of gravel, reveling in crunchy sounds she had not heard in 40 years.
And I thought about my friend Bob who last week showed me his new hearing aids, high-end, gleaming bits of silver. “I never knew my computer mouse made a clicking noise,” he told me. A simple sound, yet powerful in its ability to produce awe.
Some new sounds take more time to identify. Watching TV at my stepson’s house is a full-on family experience – a continuum of adults, two kids and two dogs, interspersed with pillows and blankies. The Great Dane – Duke M’Darling – has taken a shine to me and likes to nap close to me, which means he covers half of my body. While watching the TV show, I became aware of another sound. I couldn’t place it, but it was low and rhythmic, resonating in my sound processor. I asked the universe – what’s that sound? It was Duke – snoring! I’d never heard it before. I spent the rest of the show revelling in the comfort of dog-snores.
Tiny miracles of sounds are there, if we let them in. You don’t need a Great Dane or a beach. What you hear with excitement may be boring or mundane to others, but let them live their perfect-hearing lives and we’ll open ourselves up with joy to whatever tiny, daily miracles our pinnas, hearing technology, and the Hearing Gods choose to serve us.