April 2018

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Do you hear what I hear?

I’ve always imagined that little lamb in the Christmas song didn’t really say anything to the shepherd boy about hearing a song. Though Christmas is the season of miracles, this seemed like pure fiction to me—improbable enough to suggest that a Southerner probably wrote it.

Today, however, I’ve changed my mind. I think the little lamb got a hearing aid like I did and is amazed by all there is to hear like I am. The little lamb is reminding the shepherd boy of the miracle of sound and song, a miracle that the shepherd boy has come to take for granted.

See what you think:

Said the little lamb to the shepherd boy
“Do you hear what I hear?
Ringing thru the sky, shepherd boy:
Do you hear what I hear?

“A song, a song
High above the tree
With a voice as big as the sea,
With a voice as big as the sea.”

I knew that I had lost some hearing in both ears after radiation two and a half years ago, and that the loss in my right ear was more severe than the loss in my left ear. I became accustomed to sitting myself on people’s right, and when someone to my right spoke in my right ear, I often said, “What?” and turned my left ear towards them.

Nobody treated this as odd. Bless them.

Now, however, I have a hearing aid in my right ear, and I’m overwhelmed by all that I hear. My rain jacket’s zipper is extremely loud and incredibly close. The floorboards in our house creak when I walk. Tapping on a computer keyboard sounds like the first giant drops of a Salvadoran spring rain hitting a tin roof.

Yesterday, as I walked through the university under an unusually blue sky, I kept thinking that I heard a truck’s breaks behind me. I finally figured out that I was hearing birds singing, and I relaxed and enjoyed their celebratory song. (They were singing in birdese, “The sun’s out! The sun’s out!” And since my hearing aid comes with a translator from birdese to English, I could understand them.)

Of course, just as there’s always an upside—even to brain tumors—there’s also a downside—even to a hearing aid.

Everyone’s talking like Owen Meany: voices high and loud. Also, I keep thinking I’m hearing people on the front porch, so I open the door, but the voices are a house or two down the street. Perhaps worse, I can hear myself sing.

Still, like the birds, I’m singing a celebratory song.



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