Blog Archives

Sound Cancellation Magic and Mystery

Close your eyes and what do you see?

Pin your nose and what do you smell?

Shut your mouth and what do you taste?

Cover your skin and what do you feel?

Hold your ears and… you still hear what you heard before, just a bit quieter. I can’t shut out sound like I can dim sights, smells, tastes and touches. It just keeps coming despite my best efforts. Which reminds me of the white noise I used to create in my dorm room by turning the dial on my stereo so it was between stations. (Youngsters, see radio here, which actually makes for some fascinating physics reading!)

Oh, how quiet the dorm seems now compared to the world that is hammering at my door and pounding on my ear drums. And it doesn’t come just with volume but with velocity. It has the power to take me down. Literally, to run me out. This is complete irony to me, someone who has to listen so carefully to remember what I hear. I have to turn the dial just so and focus all my attention just there so I can hear, process and remember what you say.

And this tuning in leaves me completely at the mercy of the noise. I’ve turned up the gain, and everything else is louder, too. The shouting, the loud, the angry, the oblivious, the crying, and those who really need someone to listen. By tuning everything out, I don’t hear. I don’t hear them. I don’t hear You. How can I tamp down the background so I can listen carefully, completely? So when the moment for listening comes I will give it my full attention.

photoSuddenly, in have walked sound cancellation head phones. (My husband bought me these, which is a fascinating observation on our marriage – but here, it’s working :)) So, how do those headphones DO that? They cancel the sounds around you so you can hear just what you want to. If you don’t pipe in any music, there are still sounds, but these aren’t distracting. It’s as if the headphones tell your ears, “Don’t pay any attention to that.”

These headphones really are quite amazing. Canceling offending noises without quashing them. They don’t shout down the opponent; they meet his onslaught with an equal and opposite force. Poof. Gone. No muss, no fuss. How magnificent! How mighty. How peaceful. What’s left is selected silence, dialed in. Just like in the dorm room.

Selective silence is what I need. Imagine if I could tune out the world’s noise and focus only on that still small voice. Not exclusively, not forever, not in an offensive or off-putting, superior or segregating, critical or judgmental way. The Lord knows this would, perhaps will, tempt me to aim and fire my Silence!! button at the world according to Wendy.

But what if I could learn to hit the sound cancellation button just as needed? When I need to hear only one sound and one voice. It’s good to know the Tech is available.


This post is dedicated to three women who are listening for medical news right now and I am privileged to hold them up in my listening.

Can we see stillness? hear silence?

Oh, what a welcome respite the recent “snow day” was for some. Particularly the ones whose days are hustle and bustle. Whose commutes are honking and merging. Who arrive home each evening exhausted from the effort put forth in the day just filed in the “done” column.

I know and love such a one. She enjoyed this day in her quiet spot, watching the silence and breathing in the stillness. She even took a moment to think of me and snapped me a photo to share the moment’s peace.

Don't think you can see the snow actually falling but the silence "shows."

Don’t think you can see the snow actually falling but the silence “shows.”

How do we see the stillness? Is it the same as hearing the silence?

Stillness is absence of movement. How can I know what isn’t?

Silence is absence of sound. How can I know what isn’t?

Funny how a snapshot stops, for a moment, the flicker of flame and the flutter of snow. I know they are moving. How? By the bend of the light. Its reaching and grasping for air. By the blur in the distance, briefly obscured by the wet lattice of flakes.

I know the movement by the evidence of it’s presence. It lets me see it, teases me to hear it. It calls me to see and to hear with senses different from those I usually trust.



Stops me to hear…

“There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.” ~ Psalm 46: 4-6

Though nations roar and kingdoms crash, there is a place that is Holy. Can we see it? Can we hear it?

%d bloggers like this: