To know sound you have to notice it first. Too bad that civilization requires the knack of folding the senses under, of choosing not to hear. I need to remember how to be a forest animal again, to be the fox who hears everything, or the carp whose shape is the wave of the water itself. I need ways to remind myself that I'm the central fish in this sea of sound.

Closing My Eyes

When I keep my eyes closed, sound has new meaning. It becomes nourishment, holy food, and my best friend. Lost dimensions are restored: sounds that before had only a surface now have a deep interior. Urgent personal messages are aimed at my head. When I lift open my eyes again the sharp details of the sounds are gone, vaporized in the everyday blaze. Now, why can't I have the best of both worlds?

Hunter and Hunted

I stand stock-still listening to my surroundings as if I were a hunter, breath shallow, ears connected to stomach. Everything is prey. I consider, in each sound, the advantage.

Now I am the hunted. I hear the threatening edge of each sound, my chances for escape. I gauge distances.

The danger passes. I am the hunter again.

Like a Baby

You can wait for the next sound and hear it as if for the first time. Know nothing about the source of the sound — its shape or its purpose. Let it arrive at your ears entirely in the present, with no history. Listen like a new baby listens.

Dervish Listener

Standing with open eyes, I cup my palms behind my ears and slowly turn. This allows me to pinpoint precisely the location of every sound. I become the focus of a sphere, and all the rays are directed toward me. Now dervish mind takes over, and I am motionless at the hub of a spinning world. It is as if I am the sun, and all the light I've been sending out for centuries is coming back.

W. A. Mathieu in The Musical Life