In summary, hearing is an amazing and largely under-appreciated gift. Your ears are always "on". Absorbing. Filtering. Reasoning. Reckoning. But you seldom think about it.
A few of the point that most resonated with me from the Times' article:
- While it might take you a full second to notice something out of the corner of your eye, turn your head toward it, recognize it and respond to it, the same reaction to a new or sudden sound happens at least 10 times as fast.
- This is because hearing has evolved as our alarm system — it operates out of line of sight and works even while you are asleep.
- Listening is a skill that we’re in danger of losing in a world of digital distraction and information overload.
- Luckily, we can train our listening just as with any other skill. Listen to new music when jogging rather than familiar tunes. Listen to your dog’s whines and barks: he is trying to tell you something isn’t right. Listen to your significant other’s voice — not only to the words, which after a few years may repeat, but to the sounds under them, the emotions carried in the harmonics. You may save yourself a couple of fights.
These comments remind me of the following posts I have made myself over the years relating to this amazing sense, and how interesting it can be to truly listen consciously rather than passively.
Sound And The Energising Peace of Solitude - a recount of a diary entry I wrote after pulling the car over in the middle of a barren icefield in remote Iceland, to just listen.
5 Minutes In The Life Of My Ears - as noted in a Newcastle Cafe, 1:35pm, Wednesday 15th June 2011
A Meditation In Sound - a brief post, very akin to the comments in the New York Times article -
"It’s an interesting experiment. How many sounds can you hear right now? At first you may only recognize of a couple. The obvious sounds. But if you focus on listening you will likely hear many individual sounds around you, which were previously being filtered out of your awareness".
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