We all need a friend. Someone to share thoughts with, laugh with, cry with. Someone who will take the time to be what we need, and who can expect the same from us. That might be especially true for those of us who face each day not hearing all we used to hear, all we want to hear, and all we need to hear. I am lucky, I have such friends.
I began losing my hearing in childhood and consider myself lucky in that I can still remember what many of the things I can no longer hear sound like–at least I thought I was lucky until I came across someone who is “Culturally Deaf” (her label) and has tried to convince me that never having experienced sound in the first place is better. Her thinking, you can’t miss what you have never had. I guess we all gauge luck in our own way? And that’s okay–though I will admit that knowing what I am missing makes me sad on occasion, but would I rather have not experienced sound in order to avoid the sadness of loss? I think I’ll stick to the “It’s better to have heard and lost, than to have never heard at all.” way of thinking.
And because I have the memory of sounds I no longer can hear, I draw on that memory and am very protective of it. Sadly, as the years turn into decades, I find some of those memories have faded, but luck is the lady again. I have people in my life who help me fill in the gaps of faded memory, and take the time to describe what I am missing–I’ve learned to ask. I’ll admit, those times are never often enough to suit me, but I’ve learned to treasure the occasions when they happen. In return, I try to describe the things I see for those who describe sound for me. Things many people miss. Things only a person who lacks hearing sees.
Several years ago I was in Texas visiting my elderly aunt. While there, I walked in the mornings, often earlier than the rest of the world was up and about, and on those walks the same friend came to mind as I saw things I wanted to share with him. At the time, this particular friend seemed convinced life was too serious, he was too old and too devoid of dreams, and too busy to take pleasure in much of anything. So I sent him a letter to tell him of things I saw on my walks.
I’ve been walking early in the mornings during my visit here in Texas, and on the first morning I found a parrot feather. It is gray with a bright green on the edge. It was so pretty I couldn’t pass it up, as with most things that please me. As I bent down to pick it up, I found myself wishing you were here to see it. I am not sure why I thought that, for I wasn’t thinking of you until that moment? Maybe I just want to share my happiness with you? The happiness of simply being mindful of things. The happiness of looking at the world in the same way that I did as a child. Maybe that is what we are supposed to be for one another? I can share with you the things I see, and you can share with me the things you hear? I am bringing the feather home with me and am saving it for you. It represents all of the things I see that I want to share with you.
Tell me what you hear.
Tell me of the songbirds serenade. The symphony of the morning.
Tell me what a chorus of crickets sound like in the evening. Help me not to forget.
Tell me of the new music you hear and appreciate. What it means to you. How it touches your heart.
Tell me what you hear. Tell me what I’m missing.
And then, I will tell you what I see.
I will tell you of the things that others miss. Things only a person who lacks hearing sees.
I will tell you of the beautiful sunsets on the beach. The dance of color in the sky.
I will tell you of the storm clouds on the horizon. How they are magically illuminated by the setting sun.
I will tell you what I see. I will tell you what you are missing.
Tell me what you hear, and I will tell you what I see. Maybe that is the purpose of our friendship?
Take the time to share your view of the world with someone you consider a friend, and be bold and ask your hearing friends to help you experience what they hear. I can’t think of any better definition of “friendship”.