A Sound Explanation

"For we walk by faith, not by sight." –2 Corinthians 5:7

I deeply respect the blind, but I pity the deaf.

If it’s one thing that writers tend to do more than anyone, it’s analyze themselves, almost to a fault. As for myself, I’ve noticed recently that I tend to rely more on my hearing than I do sight. Why it took me so long to discover, I have no idea, but this would not only explain why I love books and music more than anything, but it also explains a lot of my oddball quirks as well.

I love having things left to my imagination, which is probably why I also love listening to radio plays with my girlfriend. After reading a book, I would sooner never watch its adaptation for fear of tainting it.

So much of the magic of what I hear and perceive is contained in the fact that it’s all mine. Certainly, someone had to write the words and perform music and dialogue, but when it comes to visuals, no one can tell me what I can and cannot visualize. When I am explicitly told what I must feel and how I must interpret, I am immediately offended. Ready-made visuals go a long way in providing a canned reaction. Don’t believe me? Watch your favorite television show and notice the subtle visual cues that arouse reactions in your mind. Would you have the same reactions if you were blind?

I doubt it.

I prefer to ingest motion pictures and news programs with my eyes shut or averted, much to my guests’ chagrin. Am I really missing half the fun, or am I allowing myself the luxury of a completely uninhibited experience?

In real life, when I listen to a stranger with discernment, very rarely do I ever look at him or her in the face (although they THINK I do). Their mannerisms and facial expressions tell me what they WANT me to think, but I am more interested in what they are actually telling me. The slickest salesmen operate on wanting you to focus on what you want to hear rather than what they are actually saying. How many times have we been burned or "ripped off" by nice-looking, well-educated people? How many con-men throughout history have we elected into public office on charm and good looks alone? You’d think we would have learned by now.

I can remember the voice and countless details about a person, but names are not important. Unless given a good reason to remember, I have trouble matching a name to a face because both are lables. Lables mean nothing to me because they are pretenses. Prejudices. A nugget that sways an opinion before it ever begins to germinate. "Who are you?" I ask. All other questions are moot.

I fell in love with classical music and Jazz when I realized that I could listen to a single piece over and over and never hear the same thing twice. I fell in love with the beach when I let the noisy sounds of the ocean and the seagulls carry me to a happier place and a deeper sleep. I fell in love with the library when I walked inside and heard nothing at all except for the voices of writers past. I fell in love with writing when I discovered my inner voice. I fell in love with marching band when I realized that learning the routine was less like drilling and more like dancing.

I fell in love with my girlfriend when I realized that her voice was beautiful and I could listen to her forever, and I fell in love with God when I first heard him speak to me as His child.

Our eyes lie to us all the time. They flatter us and show us what we want to see. They skew the world into an egocentric vision that tells us that our ends justify any means necessary. An over-reliance on sight makes us less self-aware and more self-entitled. Why do people appear to be bright until they speak? Why do things look so appealing until the voice of reason kicks in?

Lies. All lies.

No, our ears aren’t always reliable, either, but they speak the only truth they know. They don’t always tell us what we want to hear or flatter us, but they can be a true telescope to the world if we let them whereas the eyes are merely a kaleidascope that numbs our other senses. None of what I see is real, but (almost) everything I hear reveals the true heart of man.

When a person is stricken blind, it is said that sound and touch is heightened to compensate for the lack of sight. If this is true, what happens when we learn to depend on sight for too long? Do our listening skills atrophy? Do we forget the sensation of touch or the ecstasy of taste? Heaven forbid.

When I was in middle school, I suffered from a sinus infection so intense that the blood vessels in my ears swelled and I was rendered partially deaf for a week. I felt like a mole in the sunlight. I was a nervous wreck and no one could understand why. I couldn’t understand either, until now.

Though I still retained sight, I could not truly see.


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