Those who know me well would probably tell you that I can be almost irritatingly Pollyanna-ish at times, always prone to look on the bright side and declare my glass half-full, not half-empty. Just occasionally my normal optimism slips a bit and today is one of those occasions.
For the next couple of days I’ll be on my own at home, while DH visits his mother. Usually this gives me a chance to get on with things more easily achieved when I have the house to myself, and indeed I have a mental list of what I hope to do and have already made a start on it.
But being on my own in a house far from traffic noise, and on a frosty day when not a twig is stirring outside, means that the silence which surrounds me is profound - something I have always loved and valued. The problem is that I have just been brought face to face, as never before, with the stark fact that this silence I love so much has actually disappeared for me and will never return.
The simple reason is that I have tinnitus and it’s getting worse. It started, oh so deceptively, about five or six years ago with a very slight whispering sound in one ear. Over the years it has grown to be a constant, high-pitched, hissing noise in both ears, which is increasingly difficult to ignore and which is gradually making it impossible for me to hear those tiny sounds which are so precious and evocative.
Sounds like the chirp of a distant bird or the gentle rustle of leaves high in a tree or the almost imperceptible murmur of water over pebbles in a slow-moving stream. Close to, the sounds still penetrate, but their clarity and immediacy are blunted by the unceasing noise inside my head. Even music, which plays such an important part in my life, has to be listened to through this barrier and this saddens me.
I’m very aware that this doesn’t mean I’m going deaf and for that I am profoundly grateful. But I still mourn for the loss of something very precious – the silence which I used to find so enriching and sustaining and which made me so aware of being a very small part in the vastness of nature. Tomorrow I will probably bounce back to my normal optimistic state, but tonight I wish I could hear just once more the sound of silence.