“That innate love of melody, which she had inherited from her ballad-singing mother, gave the simplest music a power which could well-nigh drag her heart out of her bosom at times.”
― Thomas Hardy, Tess of the d’Urbervilles
A wise woman once told me that sometimes people have selective hearing – they hear only what they want to hear, perhaps because they don’t want or don’t care to know. This same woman told me that it was important that I learn not only to hear, but also to listen – because when we focus, our sense is heightened, enabling us to notice all the subtleties and nuances that we would have missed, had we not made the effort. Her frame of reference was music. As she spoke, her voice was quiet, soft and melodic. She whistled as good as any nightingale. She only whistled when she was sad. It lifted her spirits up. She sang when she was happy. When she sang, she would close her eyes, her lids fluttering slightly. Her singing was perfectly tuned and simply lovely. I have never forgotten her voice, nor the sound of her whistling.
She gave me one more piece of sage advice, almost as an afterthought – but now, I realize that it was what she most wanted me to remember.
“Each day, you must take the time to listen to the sound of quiet. Just do it. You will understand why, when you do.”
So, if I were asked to narrow down my most favorite sounds to five, they would be:
5. The haunting rumbling of a distant train. (it appeals to my sense of wanderlust)
4. The discordant sounds that an orchestra makes, in the minutes before the concert hall is silent – before the performance commences. (it fills me with anticipation, excitement and joy)
3. The steady, low roar of ocean waves, as the tide rolls in – especially at dawn and dusk. (I am awed and humbled by its sheer magnificence)
2. The gentle rustling of bamboo leaves, as the trees sway in the wind. (this, for me, is the sound of peace)
1. The sound of quiet. (when everything is silent, I am in complete harmony with myself, and with God)
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