5 June 2013: Feeling the rhythms, vibrations of life

Feeling the rhythms, the vibrations of life

In his quiet work “Seven Thousand Ways to Listen,” Mark Nepo writes about percussionist Evelyn Glennie who is “profoundly deaf.”

Nepo explains Glennie “lives the rhythms and feels the vibrations of the music, not instead of hearing but as the foundation of all hearing.”

It is our insistence that feeling and hearing, like the other senses, are distinct functions and not integrated that causes our dissonance.

“Deafness does not mean you can’t hear, only that there is something wrong with the ears,” notes Glennie.

Glennie’s line reminds me of Helen Keller’s who, when asked what could be worse than being blind, responded, “having no vision.”

The women’s insights are among those aspects of being we need to learn or relearn daily.  We’re blinded by our sight and deaf due to incessant the noise bombarding our ears and, when we separate out the sensing processes—not seeing with our ears and hearing with our eyes—it prevents us from seeing the world in its truest form.  It’s a disability, says Glennie.

Coming to truly grasp that notion allows one to escape his/her world of prejudices, bigotries, and biases, which do not come from nature or God, but instilled and reinforced from the moment of birth.  They are limitations—disabilities—that remain intact until one decides they no longer suit him/her and thus are no longer useful.  Once recognizing the worthlessness and uselessness of prejudice and bigotry—necessary to sustain one’s fear—one is on his/her way to wisdom.

I’m thinking of writing a novel centering around six Americans in a lifeboat adrift on the ocean doing all they can to survive but also dialoguing about our current state of affairs.  For the sake of balance, there would be three men and three women; one would be black, another Latino/a, and a third other perhaps Asian.

Religion and language representation would be crucial.  Four or five would be assorted Christians—Catholic, Southern Baptist, Mormon—but it would nice to include a Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, pagan, New Ager, or atheist as well.  We’d have to subdivide the remaining character(s), however.

Their use of language, including accents, dialect, and colloquial phrases—yinz v. y’all v. yous guys, for example—would be telling.

The whole mishmash would be at first seemingly incongruent to the reader.  The Mormon might be from Tupelo, MS, speak with a nasal Boston accent, and be decidedly pro-gay marriage while the atheist might be from Logan, UT, speak with a very pleasant Minnesota “oooo” sound, and a NRA member.

While providing fodder for fun and potential for deeper thought, the main point would be the dissonance, of the disconnection from pre-conceived beliefs and unspoken assumptions, for as we all know, everyone in Utah is a Mormon and if one is from Alabama, he/she is a Southern Baptist, and Catholics are predominantly from Boston, Pittsburgh, or some other major city and not Decatur, GA.

Though that last statement is written tongue-in-cheek, it is, ironically, true, which equates religion to language: an accident of birth, for one does not grow up in Green Bay, WI speaking with a soft Southern drawl and Mormons and Jews do not sprout from the wombs of Iranian women whole and intact in their belief system.

When I write faith begins where reason fails, I state that as a universal truism applicable to all, except for me, of course, who as an Aquarius is above superstition or mythological rot.  We Aquarius are severely logical, completely rationalistic, very much like our archetypal hero Mr. Spock of “Star Trek,” which, ironically once again, demands that I accept the possibility that my metaphysical and cosmological views are completely invalid and that there is an unhappy God patiently waiting to send me to my just desserts.

Perhaps but my inner sense says other.  I choose to no longer live in fear.

Glennie’s point about disconnection among the senses serves true for a quite common disability: one’s unwillingness to allow for the myriad—infinite—ways to see/feel/hear/smell/taste, to sense and thus perceive our earthly reality.

Intuitive sense: living the rhythms and feeling the vibration of life.


Tip of the hat to Robert Houdeshell, who courageously gave public voice to his perspectives in both print and action.  As Robert wrote last week, he and I got off to rocky start, but in time we moved above that to a higher level of awareness and appreciation of the other and his views.

I wish you well, Robert, on the next leg of your journey.  Thank you for unfailingly and clearly articulating your perspectives on the great issues before us.

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