Many Voices


sea gull

“when we no longer hear the voices of warbler and wren, our own speaking can no longer be nourished by their cadences”  –David Abram, The Spell of the Sensuous

Sitting atop a large rock on the Oregon coast with eyes closed.  The sound of the waves pours into my ears and I imagine the water pouring in close behind it.  The water swirls around my head and cleanses the toxic accumulation of so many human voices.

A healthy frame of mind requires a varied aural diet; a disproporationate number of voices from any one source or any one species can be detrimental.  Listening exclusively to human voices can warp the brain like a piece of old wood and dangerously distort one’s vision.

Humans listening exclusively to other humans have locked themselves into a house of mirrors where they regularly bump into and injure others as they are unable to effectively navigate the terrain.

The voice of the ocean was soothing.

While the ocean was speaking with its waves, birds flew in and out of view.  Their voices were less rhythmic and sometimes sharper than that of the waves.  They announced their presence, caught one’s eye, and departed, perhaps off to visit others.

Even the mussels and the barnacles have voices if one is willing to listen.  Compared to a 5 to 6 foot tall mammal, they are relatively small.  Compared to the ocean, they are relatively quiet.  But by bending at the knee, cupping an ear, and leaning close their collective chorus becomes audible.  They are filtering the ocean water; they are tightening or loosening their grip on the rock beneath them.

Animals and elements can show us the way out of the house of mirrors that is our own creation as well as our own prison.  We have walled ourselves in but their voices are not reflected in the glass and so by listening we can escape into the wider world and join them.  Only then can we begin to heal the broken relationships that result from our absence and neglect.

oregon mussles

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