The Relaxing Sound Of A…What Now?

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This might be a weird question, but I’m nothing if not a little weird. I hope it’s not too invasive, and I certainly don’t mean to pry. If it makes you uncomfortable, please ignore it and pretend I didn’t ask. Your personal business is none of my business unless you want to make it my business, but that choice is yours.

Why was that sentence fun to write? I don’t know, but it was. Oh, no, wait! That wasn’t the question. I mean, it was a question, but it wasn’t thee question. I didn’t lay awake last night contemplating the joys of writing peculiar sentences. I didn’t toss and turn, wondering what you would think about my writing style or my strange use of the English language. No, my friend, that was not the question I intended to ask but, sometimes these things just slip out.

That’s what she… Nope, I’m still trying to get onto Santa’s good side. I have 300-and-something days to go, and it’s not going well. There will be coal in my stocking for sure! What do I do with coal anyway?

Again, that’s not the question I wanted to ask. My curiosity is a twitch on top of my hand tremor. I drop a lot of things and ask a lot of questions. They both make a big mess, and I’m horrible at housework. You should see my apartment. I’m this close to getting my own reality tv-show, and I’m not proud of that fact.

Okay, I’m a little proud.

No! Stop, there’s a question waiting to be asked. I’ve kept you in suspense and dangled the carrot. So, here it is in all of its splendour, wonder, and all of those sparkly words.

Do you have a favourite sound? 

Yeah, that’s the burning question I teased for four paragraphs. I hope it’s not a sensitive subject or treading on a controversial flower bed. Again, if it’s too personal then, by all means, keep your secrets. I won’t be offended. I’ll just make up my own answer, and that will be that.

What? No, you can’t just make up someone else’s story. Uh, I think I just did. It wasn’t hard. I just thought about it for a few seconds and there it was. That’s not…No, don’t assume, manipulate, or create a reality for someone else. It’s just wrong. But I can… Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.

There I go, arguing with myself again. I really need to get out and interact with real people. This isolation business is making me goofy.

So, back to my big question. Do you have a sound that sends a ripple of delight running down your spine? You shiver, smile, and wonder if you’re weird. Or, I wonder if I’m weird, and then I project my insecurities onto you because weirdness loves company.

Huh, I should talk to someone about that.

This is a universal thing, right? I’m not the only one with a favourite sound. We all have at least one sonance that triggers feelings of contentment, safety, and happiness. It’s comforting, soothing, and when we’re alone in our bubbles it offers companionship.

Okay, that last one might go a bit far.

This question didn’t come up out of nowhere. I didn’t wake up in the middle of the night with random queries burning a hole in my mattress. At least, that didn’t happen last night. No, I overheard a conversation, and this question was posed.

The reply was, and I quote, “I’m too old for such silly things.”

Too old? Oh no, you did not just say that. Too old? Seriously?

You are never too old to partake in the silly things life has to offer. No, my friend, you could be 192 and still laugh when someone farts or slips on a banana peel. Classic! And classics don’t age out. They get better with time, and the longer you’re here, the more you can enjoy it. I don’t care how many times your card has punched. Some things are just timeless. 

Things like a favourite colour, bra, or flavour of toothpaste. If I can enjoy those things then, I can have a favourite sound. They’re not just for children, you know. Kids don’t get to have all the fun. I didn’t hand over my goofy-giggle card when I turned 21. That means, buddy old pal, I haven’t outgrown any of these silly things. 

If it makes me happy, I’m going to enjoy it because there’s no need to deny myself such a simple, healthy and safe pleasure. Some other forms of pleasure? Yeah, I could stand to avoid a few of those, but silly things? Never!

So, what’s your favourite sound? If you say chewing then my smile will turn into a cringe. I can’t listen to that. It feels like ants are eating my brain. It’s the same thing with whispering or any sound typically found in ASMR. Ew, no, the thought alone makes me whimper in disgust.

If you like those things? You do the do-da that you do so well. Could you wear headphones, please? That would be lovely.

I asked around a bit, and a neighbour told me she likes the sound of scissors running through wrapping paper in one swoop. Someone else said they like the sound of bubble wrap popping. I like the wind, and I can’t fall asleep without the sound of a fan going full speed. It’s the dead of winter, we had a big snowstorm last week, and it’s well below zero degrees Celsius at night. But, my fan is still running, and I’m buried under a pile of blankets.

Yeppers, it’s bloody cold, snuggly, and comfy.

The sound of silence drives me mad. When it gets too quiet, my ears feel like they’re bleeding, and my mind is burning a hole in my skull. I need the noise. Any noise. Except for the sound of chewing or whispering. Mouth noises are the worst!

I hate the sound of silence because… Oh dear, I’m about to venture into an area that makes people uncomfortable and, if that happens to you, I’m sorry. No, I’m going to take that back. I shouldn’t apologize for the way my life has played out, right? It happened, but I don’t want it to sound sad. I certainly don’t want the temperature in the room to drop seven degrees and wipe out a cluster of happy vibes.

Which happens when I bring up my childhood. People get uncomfortable, and they develop shifty puppy dog eyes. It’s a mix of get me out of here and awe sweetie. Neither of which inspires sharing, caring and community.

And it doesn’t help to start the story with, “Hey, a funny thing happened.” No one thinks growing up in a hospital is funny. It’s baffling! How can a bunch of sick kids living in a sterile environment not be funny? I don’t get it.

The problem is, it’s hard to talk about my life, my childhood in particular, without bringing up the fact that I grew up in hospitals. I spent so much time there, I started calling it home. I was diagnosed with chronic renal failure when I was 3, so my life has revolved around the medical world for as long as I can remember.

But it wasn’t all that bad! It just sounds awful. 

Fine, growing up in a hospital wasn’t ideal, and I wouldn’t recommend it. If you can avoid it, please do. But, it wasn’t as horrendous as you might think. Also, when you’re a kid, and this is the only life you know? Well, kids are resilient, and they adapt. 

I did, and when I look back at my life in those hospitals, most of my memories are positive. There are a lot of great people working in Children’s Hospitals all over the world. They’re job is making sure kids get to be kids in a grown-up environment. We had recess in the Playroom. School in a repurposed patients room. If you can’t leave your bed, someone will bring the good times to you. They make sure kids get to have fun in a place that isn’t known for its amusement.

I loved the staff at BC’s Children’s Hospital, and they, along with my family, created a lot of happy memories. So, when I bring it up in lighthearted conversations, I mean for it to sound fun. It’s like all of the summers you spent at your grandparent’s home, camping, or going to Disneyland.

These are happy memories that make us smile. We look back at them with the same sense of fondness. It’s the same emotional memory, but our sense memories are a little different. The sights, smells, tastes and sounds are very—What’s the word?— Unique.

In my case, it’s the sounds in particular that remind me of my home away from home. If there’s one thing that hospitals aren’t known for, it’s peace and quiet. There’s always something going on somewhere. Machines are beeping, staff talking, pagers going off, and overhead announcements. It can be the middle of the night, and despite their best efforts, the medical symphony takes centre stage.

For the uninitiated, it’s obtrusive and chaotic. It’s startling, unsettling, and it can be very stressful. For someone like me, though, it’s oddly reassuring. 

I love the noise and chaos of hospitals. There’s something so comforting about the voices drifting down the hall and the sound of soft-soled shoes on the linoleum floor. The shoes scuff against the floor, and there’s a loud chirp. It joins the squeaky wheels of an IV pole or a wheelchair.

Then there’s my absolute favourite sound, and this one will be bizarre. I love the sound of beeping monitors or machines. When I hear it, I start to feel sleepy, and I feel the pull of a trancelike state. I sigh in contentment, and I just want to close my eyes for a few minutes. It’s meditative, and I know how strange that sounds.

If I’m going to analyze myself, which is rarely advised, I think it comes down to a sense of safety. If something goes wrong, I know that there are highly trained people who will help me. That means, while I’m there, listening to the sounds of the hospital, I don’t have to be afraid. I can let go and sleep. I am safe, and that’s not something I feel very often.

Life with a chronic illness means living with a base-level of fear and uncertainty because terrifying things happen with little to no warning. The side effect of the illness, and the fear they bring are always there to varying degrees. I can tune it out, but I can’t get rid of it. Fear is biologically designed for survival, but I don’t think the designer intended it for long term use. It’s should dissipate after the threat is gone. But for those of us with chronic illnesses or injuries, the threat is always there.

Turning it off is meaningless so, we settle for drowning it out. Noise becomes a friend, and that’s especially true at night when not a sound can be heard, not even a mouse. It blocks out the silence so I can have a moment of peace, feel safe, and sleep.

I sleep with a fan going full blast in dead cold winter because the sound of the wind drowns out my thoughts. It drowns out the silence and creates a place of refuge. For me, at any time of day, noise keeps me focused on the fond memories and far away from the ones I’d rather forget.

Is that silly? Yeah, but that’s why I have a favourite sound. Sometimes, we all need to take a break from the serious and embrace the silly. So, what about you? What’s your favourite sound, and do you have a reason why?

Look at me, being too curious for my own good.


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