In these times we all have painful experiences and encounter all sorts of difficulties. I am deeply grateful for every person who brings a little humanity, who gives their time and their knowledge without counting, to get us out of this health crisis.
What’s more, each one of us has to find some way to re-energize.
What struck me the most during this lockdown is the calm and the quality of silence. Be it in the apartment or outside during the short walks with my dog. It only lasted ten days because people quickly went back to their usual habits.
I used this short period to regain the physical pleasure of listening. This silence was truly spectacular, if one can use this word for the sense of hearing. Every sound took a very special dimension and found its place in nature. I really enjoyed the sounds from the river, those triggered by the wind and especially those made by the many birds that are in my area. I had fun detecting the interactions between who called and who answered. The songs of pigeons, which usually bore me to tears, intrigued my sense of rhythm. More than half of them are singing five beat tunes.
This silence was a regenerative bath. Everyone knows that silence is a healer and can greatly reduce stress. I felt healed of the usual noisy aggressions that have left traces in my ears and in my body.
Sound can heal but also destroy. Not only our ears but also other parts of our body and even attack some of our cells. During this period, only one car, one plane, one motorcycle could break the symphony.
It’s frightening to think that during normal times, if we can call them so, each of these noises is multiplied by a hundred or by a thousand. We can now understand why we have health problems and live in permanent stress.
I also appreciated the quality of the air which suddenly became breathable, without the smell of fuel. I would even say it was transparent and it widened the range of my vision.
Before the lockdown, I often imagined that we should have one day without engines of any kind at least once a month and if possible once a week. I think it would help our health degrade less rapidly.
Developing our listening skills is not only a pleasure but a means of understanding our environment. We’ve seen that we humans, are not very gifted in this area. Now is also the time, more than ever, to develop our critical and analytical listening skills to be able to navigate into what everyone, including our governments, is telling about the coronavirus and the measures to observe.
It’s been years that many people have to travel miles to find a quiet spot. I hope you will enjoy these rare moments near your house, wake up your senses and reinforce your body with attentive and curious listening. It’s free, fun, beneficial and you don’t need specific material.
Stay safe. I wish you well.
Jean Francois Mathieu
Listening Culture Designer at Leaders Today
Chair of the ILA International Day of Listening 2018-19
Free assessment “Snapshot of your listening behaviors” by Jean Francois Mathieu
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Gordon Hempton, the man who wants to save silence from extinction.
Acoustic ecologist who cares very deeply about quiet. As The Sound Tracker® he circled the globe three times over the last 35 years in pursuit of Earth’s rarest nature sounds.