Place Of Solitude
Bang, slam, whump.
Screech, clang, crunch.
Man, we humans are a noisy bunch.
Over the years it’s become more and more difficult to find a place of perfect solitude. I keep a special place in my heart for David Thoreau, who saw the evils in industrialization already in the 19th century. While Ralph Waldo Emerson waxed poetic over the greatness of America, embracing its exploitation of resources and people, Thoreau quietly drifted over to Walden Pond in an attempt to find some peace of mind in communing with nature. It’s true that he walked to town for a meal at mom’s every Sunday. Rumor has it he even brought his laundry. I don’t find fault with that. Didn’t we all bring the laundry home every weekend after we landed our first job? All this comes to mind because I got an email from someone I hadn’t heard from in awhile. Let’s call him Thor to protect his innocence while grounding him in a specific philosophy.
Thor has a most unusual condition. He suffers from “hyperacusis.” This means he has a lack of tolerance for every sound, even the sound of a pin that drops. The first time I met Thor was on my first day of college. As I lugged a trunk up the steps into my dorm, a youthful fellow suddenly appeared wearing a construction headset. Without a word he picked up the other end and up we marched into the house, on up the staircase to my room. I thought he was a contractor wiring up student’s telephones. When he made himself at home in my room, I realized he was my roommate.
Life with Thor was both intriguing and tedious. “Don’t you hear that?” he would suddenly say.
“That whistling noise!” Thor would leap to his feet, peering out the window. “Who’s doing that!” he would demand. “Don’t you hear that noise?”
No Solitude Here
“What noise?” And, sure enough, eventually some Slim Whitman type, whistling on a distant street, would drift faintly into my ear. Thor couldn’t take it, of course. He’d scowl and clamp on his headset. It got so bad that Thor insulated our dorm room closet as an escape compartment. In he’d go into the padded cell with his computer to do his work. And there I was left alone in the room wondering whether to call the men in white or my mother.
That was years ago. Thor and I managed to stay in touch through thick and thin, though, and tonight he’s flying in for a visit from some forsaken outpost in the Midwest where he works on sound experiments for the navy. Submarines and sonar and eavesdropping. Things like that. Of all times he picks January for a visit. Looks like a bone-chiller of a ride up to the airport. Well, that’s all right, I’ve my Woolx to steady me.
You know, with time I came to accept Thor’s view of things. Let’s just say I took on a more “aesthetic sense” of the sounds that surround me. I have Thor to thank for that. It is a noisy world and we humans are to blame – how do we stand it, I wonder? I can’t seem to get any peace and quiet anymore – except when I put on my construction headset, like now, so I can eliminate the interference from the bloody ticking clock in the kitchen and finish this note about Thor.