Tuesday, December 05, 2006


This evening after finishing some raking and clearing in the garden I suddenly had an itchy ear and was poking around in there in the standard absently attentive way when my faithful earpick (the blunt end of a toothpick) suddenly rubbed across something that sounded very unlike the delicate softness of the ear canal that we all know from as soon after birth as we explore it. It was a most alien sound to be hearing as close to me as sound can be.

It sounded something like what you might hear if you dragged a sledgehammer along a concrete driveway in your ear. I had never before sensed so little difference between hearing and being. Conventionally, when earily poking around as occasion required, I'd always heard the usual soft, gentle sounds, matters of delicacy and concentration, quiet, smooth meanderings-- no sledgehammers, no concrete.

Whatever it was, though, it was small; not only because it was in my ear, but also because once I'd heard it I had a tough time finding it again, even in so small a space. As this aural adventure indicates, however, and as Einstein intimated in a non-auricular context, all space is relative. So I stood there miniaturized by the sonically and physically fascinating adventure that was going on right in my head's own backyard-- I was nowhere but there in my own ear, experiencing the eclectic excitement of archaeology, rather like a blindfolded Howard Carter in the tunnel at the door to King Tut's tomb.

Though I was working blind, I wasn't deaf -- so with my simple tool I managed to find the sound again, then to pinpoint it, then to work at moving it - it now seemed moveable - what was it? I seldom explore by sound alone, so this was a special expedition, but I've never had the patience Carter had, sealing the opening and waiting a season or two. This is the seldom-addressed point at which ears and ancient tombs diverge.

And so I wrestled the sacred object out into the light, whatever it was (a golden anubis?) and there observed that it was but a wild seed, a renegade that had occupied me while I was busy in the garden leveling its kind. It was trying to make a meadow of me.

Hope is made of Spring...


Winston said...

Now, now, Robert. Didn't your mom tell you - nothing smaller than your elbow in your ear?

I had a similar experience a couple of years ago, but it turned out to be a very small hardshell beetle of some sort, that was seeking refuge out of the elements. He had never heard of the old warm saline solution wash. What a relief to get that sucker out.

Maya's Granny said...

When I had that experience it was a tiny, tiny bit of gravel. I could remember being hit by a scatter of it when a car drove by, but hadn't realized it had actually entered my ear.

It is an odd experience, to hear that grating sound inside your own head.

Chancy said...

Imagine the looks you would get on the train if the seed had spouted and a beautiful, flowering Jasmine vine was growing from your inner ear down to your ankles.