At close range


From Suha’s series ‘Beware: Slippery…. Sacred Ground – Small flashes of real life’

bad hearing

No, nothing extraordinary has happened, only that five years ago I realised that my hearing had partly left me, without so much as a by-your-leave. At first I experienced this as a disability, and asked myself, what should I do? Should I get a hearing aid or not? At my first medical examination, after my tests had made the situation quite clear, the doctor, seeing how undecided I was, told me, smiling: “Dear lady, there’s a very simple and inexpensive solution: put little flags on your ears with the words ‘Please talk louder.’” I decided to try out the hearing aid, although the one I bought (there are some that work better, but they cost the earth) was not very comforting. The enormously amplified background noise and the distorted sound of voices don’t help very much, and, although I do hear the sounds, I can catch only a few sparse words.

In face-to-face exchanges everything is all right, particularly if I keep at close range, with or without my hearing aid! And my ears “tell” me that people who are fond of me spontaneously raise their voice when they see the question-mark expression on my face. With time I’ve also learnt to say, “I didn’t understand” or “I didn’t hear”. With these people I feel comfortable, but what am I to do with the others? On public occasions I’m really in a tight spot. I’ve stopped taking part in group activities, because the part in which one shares and receives instructions about the exercises – which are so important for the collective process – makes me feel utterly cut off!

Asking my neighbours “What did they say? What do we have to do?” would be a nuisance both for me and for the others. I should always have a “prompter” with me… Who knows, maybe this could really happen some day! But the truth is that my ears, which have always been wide-open windows on the world, now are half-closed for me. On the one hand, I feel protected, and sincerely feel I’m not missing anything when I do not hear a trite, meaningless bit of chitchat. It’s enough for me to observe the attitude of a speaker to understand the type of conversation that is going on. And I’m exempt from the stress of ear-splitting, violent noises: I feel this is an advantage, because all these sounds and noises reach me in a muffled state.

But, on the other hand, many other nuances escape me. What should I do? At a certain point I asked myself: when I could hear well, was I able to listen? No, I really think I wasn’t…. “Good,” I said to myself, “I can start straight away, now that my hearing is worse…” I realised that at last I had more energy available for listening in a different way, both inside me and outside, listening to a language that is not coarse but more subtle, more hidden, very clear but without words, always available and not prone to giving rise to misunderstandings. And now experiencing my condition as a blessing in disguise has become natural, joyful and amusing.

In relationships with other people, obviously attaching less importance to words, I have learnt to extend the range of my listening to body language, to imperceptible movements in the expressions of the faces, and to the mirror of the eyes, which seldom distorts the whispers of the heart. And sometimes I happen to listen to something more than the other person meant to say, or to hear also what has not been said. I listen “seeing with my eyes” and “feeling in my gut.” Everything talks to me in a mute language that reaches my heart and is easy for me to make out. For this reason I don’t really need a hearing aid. I have understood why I forget to wear it so often. And when I am alone, without my hearing aid, peace and enjoyment come to me!

The external atmosphere – softly quiet and without any racket – perfectly suits the inward feeling that accompanies the gestures of my slow, measured everyday living. This gives my body the possibility of expressing itself and making itself be heard: I can perceive the mood of my inner organs, the stretching of my muscles, the tension of my nerves, my urges, emotions, mood changes, the chattering of my mind, but above all the soundless Sound, with a capital S, that keeps my body and the entire universe together and reaches me in my ears, like the sound of the ocean in a shell.

First published in Osho Times – translated from Italian by Marta Innocenti

Amrita SuhaSuha is a regular contributor

More articles and poems by this author in Osho News

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