Too much noise in your life? Here’s a small piece from Sarah’s wonderful “Powered On: The Sounds I Choose to Hear & the Noise I Don’t.”
From Chapter 3:
My greatest challenge with tone came in 2006 when I attempted to learn Mandarin. My husband and I had moved to China for a mission trip where he taught English at a university for a year. Part of the job involved taking classes to learn Mandarin, and Mandarin is very much a tonal language. The same word can be pronounced three different ways and have three very different meanings. It was impossible for me to learn the language well because I couldn’t pick up on the tones. I learned some key phrases; and with my Southern accent along with my charades, I could manage. But I never went anywhere or did any kind of errand or shopping without my husband or a friend in tow. We lived in China for a year. It was one of the most challenging years of my life for many reasons, but the language was a big part of it. However, not knowing the language well caused me to really take in all that went on around me. I realized that I as long as I could smile, all would be well, just like so many other times in my life. Even in a foreign land, I learned how far just a smile would truly get me.
I could go on and on about the small things I missed out on, but being deaf for most of my life allowed me to gain a unique perspective on the world. People often focus on the big things and miss out on so much—a bird singing in the trees, the leaves rustling on the ground, acorns falling, a child’s laughter, and so much more. These were all sounds I wanted so badly to be able to appreciate but couldn’t. I kind of look at myself as a proverbial gardener. Much of the world typically focuses on what fruits and vegetables they can get from a garden—what sustenance it can provide them, what joy they can get from it, or how it can benefit them. Seldom do folks realize that the small actions like pulling weeds and watering the garden are what actually produce the bounty. The garden cannot flourish or produce unless these small things are done. When I was deaf, the small details were my world—I always lived in the moment. My life has really been cracked wide open recently, but I hope to not become so immersed in it that I forget to pay attention to the small things and take nothing for granted. While my identity was never in my deafness, I hope that I never lose what I actually gained from being deaf and focusing inward for so long.