On a Beach Walk: No. 51 (Hearing)

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I like walking the beach. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

Hearing the sounds of the sea as I walk is relaxing. The sequence of the upswell at the start of the breaking waves to the clap of the crest’s splash to the shoosh gently fading away. I even hear the popping of the tiny bubbles as water caresses my feet.

That sound is repetitive and constant while dominating the beach’s soundscape – but both similar and different with each passing day.

Hearing – the only sense relying on vibrations. The shell of our outer ear captures the sound waves of the sea and then directs those waves that we don’t hear then to the eardrum – causing it to vibrate. – which causes the 3 bones of the middle ear to vibrate – yet we do not hear.

The vibrating bones cause another membrane to vibrate – which causes inner ear fluid to vibrate – then nerve endings specialized to a particular wavelength of sound detect the vibrations – yet we do not hear.

Nerves carry the detected messages to a specialized section in the brain that puts all the messages together into what we hear. Ahhhh … now I hear the sounds of the sea that I enjoy.

I think of the classic holiday song, “Do You Hear What I Hear?” because we apply our own perspective into interpreting sounds. What one enjoys, another may not.

Without hearing, sound is silence to the listener. They do not hear the emotions music conveys. They do not experience the sounds of nature. They cannot differentiate the soundscapes of the beach, the stream, the woods, and the meadow.

They do not hear the words of love, encouragement, support, enthusiasm, and wisdom. They do not hear the voice that gives one peace. On the plus side, they are protected from the political noise of partisan pickering, personal slander, and consistent vitriol.

I think of the animals in nature whose hearing mechanism is like ours – yet some are acutely more sensitive for protective purposes. Dogs have nerve endings for detecting frequencies beyond our upper range, so they painfully hear the dog whistle that we cannot hear. Deer, who detect a slight rustling of the ground caused by a seemingly quiet step by a human in the distance.

Hearing isn’t the same as listening. Some may say listening is sophisticated hearing. Listening is mindful attention to what is said. Listening is focusing on the spoken words, not on what to say in response. Listening is something we give someone – respect – a gift that connects us to others.

Listening stimulates our thoughts. Listening make one better. Listening leads to a great understanding. Listening connects humanity. Listening joins us with nature as we concentrate on the natural sounds while trying to apply meaning.

But, some favor being heard or hearing their own voice. Then again, maybe they simply favor telling over listening.

Hearing – a sense that we value – yet take for granted. Does listening to loud music through headphones at a high volume demonstrate a greater value for music than hearing? But what did I know then – or simply did I not listen to wisdom? Is this a reason for my hearing aids today?
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I have a choice when I walk. I can hear the wind or I can listen to it. Thinking about what the wind is saying or even letting the mind wander and wonder. After all, I like walking the beach because it is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

On Beach Walk: No. 28

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I like walking the beach. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

Because music has been part of my life for many years, I think about the many musical instruments – let alone adding voices to the mix.

I think of the many instruments – brass, strings, woodwinds, percussion, and keyboards.

I think of all the instruments that are variations on a theme – as instruments causing vibrations so the air can transmit their designated tones to our ears.

I think of the vibrations caused by striking, plucking, picking, strumming, bowing, vibrating reeds, fingers and hands changing the length of columns of air, or influencing vibrating strings of different lengths, diameters, and composition – many times followed by boxes collecting the waves to distribute its resonated result into the air for transmission.

I think of all the unique instruments of global cultures – most of which are variations of other instruments found elsewhere – yet deliver something unique.

I think of a guitar – six strings of different diameters with the player’s fingers changing the length of each string to create the notes – unique vibration of air at different frequencies that nobody can initially hear.

I think about the created vibrations transferring into the guitar’s body where it resonates before exiting through a large opening. Along with string’s material, the body’s shape, type of wood, and it thickness are factors determining the final outcome that we initially cannot hear.

I think about the outer ear collecting the sound waves then the inner ear converts them into nerve messages. These are the messages that nerves transmit to the brain for interpretation – Now we hear the music.

Even without words, music speaks to each of us as it engages our soul, stimulates our minds, moves our imagination, and sparks different emotions.

One could say that music is magical – just like walking the beach that is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.