Fading off to sleep last night in Fort Greene, I half-expected to miss the Z train. Car alarms, fire engine sirens, imbibing revelers on their way to the next whiskey bar – all what you get used to when you live in a city. But I’ve been away from New York’s frenetic beat for almost two months. Now I drift off at night to more natural sounds – rustling leaves, creaky old house sighs, the pitch and wail of the wind. More relaxing, you might think… However, while the urban racket is straight up and direct, just like the people who live there, it’s the indistinct, less familiar sounds – or lack of them – in the country that I sometimes find unnerving. Is that a prowler? A raccoon? Or just my imagination?
So I’m considering taking a fresh approach when I return home. Instead of concentrating on those unfamiliar sounds – eventually knowing their schedules and moods enough to make friends – I will tune my aural radio to the silences in between, like musicians exploring the space between notes. To the quiet I shall go, acquainting myself with noiselessness, determining if such a thing even exists. I will survey the auditory landscape of moonrise. I will ruminate on the whispers and groans of falling temperature. I will attune my ear to utterances of nocturnal rest and death.
Have you ever slowed down long enough to hear blood coursing through your arteries and veins? Focused on your own breath’s intonations, or contemplated the inhalations of bats and birds? How about pondering the sound an earthworm makes as it transforms dirt into rich soil? It is all too rare that we bring our attention down to this level, especially in relation to sound. Visually we may; indeed, many activities require us to see small details, but to listen that closely… to allow another sense to deepen that much? I am eager to wander the unknown. What a world I will encounter – by entering the haunted forest and hearing the fallen tree, I believe I will heal the skittish girl inside who jumps at every rasp and rustle.