The man was explaining to me that he had lost hearing of certain frequencies – and that he had hearing aids now that allowed him to hear calls by boosting frequencies that he had become deaf to over the years. It was an emotional admission, one that I understood – to be robbed of that sound, among others, would be horrible.
I empathized because I put up with it every day, just not in the same way.
My hearing has always been more sensitive than most – admittedly, not as good as it used to be, but it’s still better than average. Over the years, dealing with such hearing has been something that made me seem anti-social to a lot of people, and it’s probably a large part of my own personality. I hear things others cannot; large groups are too noisy – and generally, most people are too noisy. I live in a world of sound that most people seem oblivious to. It allows me to hear inflections when people talk, slight variances, little tells – and also allows me to mimic and ‘fit in’.
In the forest, alone, it allows me to hear what is around me. The different calls of birds can be easily sorted out, the overlapping songs that most seem to hear as an orchestra I can separate into the different instruments, looking for birds by eye after hearing them. Most people wander through the brush with a wild abandon, scaring everything off with their voices and noise – even ‘tour guides’ for people who are looking for wildlife.
So when he told me about his problem in that one ear, his inability to hear certain frequencies, he must have found it odd that I said, “In a strange way I wish I had your problem.”
The world constantly shouts, and because of that I miss the whispers underneath it all – the nuance, the minor orchestra of a world hidden in noise. It would be nice to be able to tune out all that shouting, listening to only that which I wished.
Incidentally, that noise lead to the extinction of the Baiji.