Indulge me for a moment – imagine spring. Think of the colors. Picture the environment. What is around you? Do you see your neighbors walking past you, smiles on their faces, words cascading off their lips? Or are you alone, shaded by the leafy green trees of a rural wood? Do you feel the sun? Is a breeze bending the blades of grass, kissing your skin and tossing your hair on its way by?
Now, ponder this: What do you hear? What saccharine sounds fill your ears? What has been absent that is now present, gradually waking you from your stately torpor? That, dear Reader, is the sound of the world thawing.
Have you ever meditated on the noises the symbolize spring? Birds chirping. Rain falling. Leaves rustling. Children playing.
We don’t realize it, but it is often the sounds of the hibernal thaw that call out to us more than its sights. Pedestrians may not consciously acknowledge the first sounds of birds in the air, but a small part of the mind is quickened by the audible atmosphere. When April showers begin to tap on windows, people remained quarantined, avoiding the dismal climate. But as the air shivers with noise, creation waits with eager anticipation.
Winter is markedly silent. Snow gently falls onto hills, landing without announcing its presence. Thunder does not clap all through the season. The rumble of trucks meandering down the street is muffled by the snow and suffocated by the crisp air. This lack of sound is oppressive. But life! Life makes noise! As water flows and drips and falls and pools, roiling against winter’s laws, plants and animals and people are stirred.
But herein lies an important question: Why? Why are human beings, like the plants of the earth that are called into bloom, like the animals of the forest that are gently roused, like the birds of the air that are drawn back home, driven by a desire to rejoin the world around them at the first sounds of spring?
Sound, unlike the other senses, is social. Sight can be an individual or a group activity. You can see people, or you can see objects. Smell and taste, again, serve dual purposes. Are you allowing the fragrant aroma of a flower to inhabit you, marveling at the earth’s creative powers? Are you awe-struck at man’s ingenuity as flavors combine on your palette? Or are you enjoying the scent and flavor of a rich, decadent meal in the company of friends? Touch is incredibly personal, even intimate. Pain and pleasure are derived from this sense, leaving scars or arousing fondness.
The ability to hear, though, connects us with others. When alone, an unexpected sound is alarming. When in crowds, our brain is unconsciously, without our knowledge or effort, listening for our name. When someone nearby is weeping, our own sadness responds to their anguish. We converse with others. We listen to music created by others. We cheer with others and mourn with others – all through utterances and vocalizations. Language itself was created for one purpose – communication.
When the bass and treble notes of the great thaw float along the air current, reaching eardrums and registering with the ancient, emotive brain, people instinctually open up to the world around them. It’s as if, upon opening our windows and inviting the congenial reverberations into our houses, we also invite them into our consciousness. It is a symbolic action, for what we are really doing is inviting the world in, driven by an unconscious desire to share in this majestic journey on which we’ve all embarked.