Sunday, September 21, 2008

Do You Hear What I Hear?

It is said that the most powerful of the five senses is smell. More memories are conjured up, sent racing to the forefront, by something as simple as a single aroma. Wisteria reminds me of childhood and spring. Cinnamon or fir trees mean Christmas. A specific aftershave reminds me of first dates with hubby. Sure, not all smells are created equal. Sulfur isn't just the smell of rotten eggs. It reminds me of time spent in a Science class I hated, one where the teacher sounded like a female drill instructor and my lab partner was a squeamish boy who made ME dissect the frog.

If Smell is the most powerful sense, Hearing has to be next. Well, at least for a girl. Scientific studies have been done which document women are moved emotionally by what they hear. It's true. Otherwise why would I be content to sit and listen to Sean Connery or James Earl Jones read the phone book? I've made an interesting discovery this past year, thanks to the Internet and a variety of blogs. I've found the voices of those that write. Voices I can actually hear when reading their words. Those sounds bring me back again and again.

At first I thought it was just the chance to visit countries I may never see, to glimpse their backyard without leaving mine. That's not just cowardice or safety issues talking, it's a lack of funding. And true, it was often simple curiosity...checking in with people whose environment is different than mine. After all, you wouldn't catch me in a raft on raging waters unless you shot me with a tranquilizer dart and strapped me down. I thought of Matthew U. yesterday when I watched "The River Wild". Heart literally in throat as Meryl Streep bounced her way through those rapids I realized that Matt's words can be like that river. Sometimes they come in a rush, pushing me to think outside the box I live in. Whether political in tone or planting ABBA earworms in my brain, there is definitely a rush there. His words define "courage of one's convictions". It's a helluva ride, plus I don't have to worry about falling out of the boat.

It's funny really. I never set out to fall in with a group of writers and poets. But when you find people who love words, you can't help yourself. First there was Shug, who I owe an enormous debt of gratitude for expanding my horizons... without emptying my wallet. Shug's words have taken me places I'd never even dreamed of visiting and stayed with me long after reading. To this day I cannot get the poem "The Man Whose Last Kiss Was Me" out of my head because it made me feel so many different emotions. But it is his sly sense of humor which draws me back daily. Perhaps I should write him a thank you note while trying to figure out how to pull off that American tour.

This in turn led me further down the Scottish road to Rachel, who should be elevated to Queen of Tourism for her ability to describe what I want to see. Although she might sometimes view herself as a Doubting Thomas, I see Rachel as strong when fear and doubt want to win. Questioning, pushing ahead...her ability to say in 24 words what I can't do until I reach 500 astounds me. Her book is both a tribute to that ability and proof that women can use less than half a day to get their point across. Her poetry is a reminder that emotions make us human, connect us. Poetry is not the exclusive property of Academics to dissect in their ivory towers while lecturing that most of us are too heathen to understand. Thanks Rachel for those "Power to the People" moments.

My journey then added a new daily stop: the United Kingdom. In Dave King's words I hear wisdom. Not because he is older, because I've witnessed first hand that older doesn't always equal wiser. But in Dave's case, it does. Not only is he unafraid to share what he sees while traveling the corridors of his imagination, he is brave enough to share memories as well. Not all memories are goodness and light. But they are real and he wisely points this out time and again. Never again will I see a sandcastle and not think of him. For the record Dave, as a kid I didn't build sandcastles with a bucket and shovel. No, I picked up wet sand and dribbled it into sandy architecture, building one layer upon another. Sort of how you do with words.

And then there's Ken Armstrong, whose profile photo sums it up nicely; in his words I hear a heartwarming, genuine smile. Ken's blog is the playground where you can laugh, yet know where to hide from the bully when he comes bounding through. His words can send you swinging toward the sky with giddy excitement or slipping down the slide while wondering how hard the landing might be. His is the blog which makes me glad to own a sense of humor to save me from my often serious self.

The Internet can also aid and abet. I was actually able to listen to Ken speak on a radio program and to hear Shug read his poetry on air. Okay, so maybe that's cheating a little. But I can tell you this. If you'd played the clips without labeling who was who, I'd still have known the difference. Not because one is Irish and the other Scottish [yes, I'll admit I can hear the difference]. It's because there is the pure joy one finds mostly in children in Ken's voice and I swear when Shug speaks, I can see a twinkle in his eye.


Rachel Fox said...

Nice to be included with all this illustrious company! Words bring their own sound in indeed...

And I know what you mean about that photo of Ken's - smiles are never to be underestimated...especially great big twinkly ones!


Matthew S. Urdan said...

You can't offer help to fix things like headers if no one knows you're searching for such things.

Dave King said...

You make me feel quite shy, all those glowing words. But a person is only brave enough to share when there are folk like yourself who will listen and understand, and can be relied upon to listen and understand. Very powerful, hearing! Iam very grateful to you and the others, many of whom you mention in your post. You keep me blogging. Thank you, one and all.