October 9, 2019

Sounds that Shouldn’t be Here.


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I’m making coffee this morning.

I’ve woken up late after a night out with friends, doing yoga and listening to live music. The thought of that first sip of warmth is the first thing on my mind.

I ease my french press down while trying to count to 30. 1…2…3…thwap.

I hear the landing of a leaf that’s fallen to the ground, and I look out my window. I can feel the breeze coming through, and every now and again, it gusts so strong that I hear the trees moan. It’s like when you wake up in the morning and stretch your hands high above your head to let out noises that you’ve collected in your sleep.

I start to watch as several leaves sway their way down to the browning earth. Each a different color, some a complimentary shade to the others.

On the other side of my apartment, through the slider, I hear a child laugh. I turn to look and she’s out walking her little brown dog with her dad. I can hear the nails of the dog patter along the ground, the girl’s steps like a bass drum in time—I laugh a little too.

This takes all of five seconds and somehow I’ve forgotten to finish my press, so I do. I pour my coffee and watch the steam rise and fill my senses. I hear the clug, clug, clug of it as it pours into my cup—a sound I hear every morning that makes me smile.

I start to think about how nice it feels to just listen to the symphony of life as it plays out. How often I numb my ears with sounds that shouldn’t be here…

Sounds that are recorded across the country, or even the world, and somehow transmitted to me. Sounds that are scripted out and make-believe. Sounds that have an agenda. Sounds that want me to believe something about myself that isn’t true. Sounds that make me want to believe something about myself that is.

Sounds of art and music and lecture and comedy. Sounds that add value and sounds that add confusion.

Sounds that shouldn’t be here without the presence of the humans creating them…but somehow they are.

Don’t get me wrong—I collect and consume these sounds like a hungry seagull collecting scraps at the beach. But they seldom bring me as much peace as the sounds of my own two hands typing these words on this keyboard do right now.

As much awe as listening to a masterful musician perform their craft in front of me.

As much gratitude as hearing the laughter of my father as he sits across the table.

And I begin to wonder how much time I spend filling up the space with sounds that shouldn’t be here…how much room that leaves for the sounds that should.

It feels like a slap in the face—but one whose sting is the reminder that life is happening all around us if we could just turn the volume down on everything that isn’t. If we could put the phones down for a moment and stop trying to collect moments in a box and start living in them instead.

Human beings are incredible creatures; we are brilliant. We have figured out how to transcend time through recording and preserving the past, to transport ourselves into other people’s living rooms all over the world without ever leaving our own.

But in our race to defy all laws of logic, time, and space, more and more we’ve forgotten that the portal to everything we seek is right here in this moment. That the connection we seek isn’t just in likes or comments, but in plugging ourselves into the world around us and paying attention as it breathes in and out.

That growing and expanding doesn’t just happen by consuming other people’s thoughts, but by shutting theirs off and deeply examining our own.

That we can learn more about how to live by living, and by being present for the people around us who are doing the same.

Every living thing has a story to tell…that’s the nature of life. And if you listen closely, in the quiet of a Sunday morning, or the rush of a Friday afternoon—you can hear them.

Those are the sounds that should be here.

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