(continued from previous)
John got up at his usual time, which is always a few minutes on either side of 7:30. At least this is what it had been on a consistent basis for the past three years, ever since he quit his job as an extinction ecology and evolutionary biology professor. He had decided to downsize to a studio flat by the beach.
Waking up without having to go on autopilot had given his life new meaning: rather than constantly chasing after time, always running behind schedule, he had merged with time itself. Starting the day at his own pace, using his first few waking moments to simply absorb, to listen to the world around him: all the miniscule sounds that came through the walls of his tiny studio flat from far away, even with the windows shut. By now, he had become a good listener. He could tell apart the roaring of the ocean from the hissing of the coastal highway, and easily separate the two sounds in his head – even as the wind often tried to distort both of them, merge them and make them indistinguishable.
He could tell whether it was a sunny day outside or not, simply by the pitch and level of excitement in the birds’ conversations outside his window. He had subconsciously tuned into all of the ordinary sounds around him so well by now, to a point where he could almost get a “status update” on the world without even peeking out of his window. He knew almost exactly what time it was, simply by recognizing the sound footprint of a specific moment. For the past three years, John had been re-discovering his senses: the same senses that all other animals use, and which constitute the universal language of the planet. He was beginning to tune into the sounds of the EoT.
John’s transformation had accelerated since he stopped relying on digital media and fake news. Like a blind person, all his senses were heightened when he gave up trying to pay attention to the “fake windows” that humans had created to look at the world: the LCD screens. The AI deep fake journalists. The corporate-sponsored programs that muddled and distorted the world’s natural body language.
Another one of the sounds that John could now hear, more vividly than ever, was that of the city across the bay. It was the combination of millions of sounds, all melting into a single, mysterious white noise: the noise of civilization. But unlike the mesmerizing sound of a busy beehive, this noise had a muting effect: putting humans to sleep, drowning out individual sounds and voices as well as all the noises coming from nature. The white noise of the city was a giant black hole: people and things disappeared into it: from tiny footsteps and mouse clicks to diesel engines and fire drills, everything merged into one, big fog. No wonder humans couldn’t see or hear anything in front of them anymore. Everything was covered by a blanket of white noise. People grew up in the city never getting to hear the beautiful sound that their own breath makes when they inhale and exhale. They never got to experience the paper-like sound of a dragonfly’s wings as they flap in the air, resonating with their ear drum. The city inhabitants were unable to see beyond their sad civilization because they had never heard their own heart beating. They had made themselves deaf.
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George is an author, researcher, podcast host, chemist, molecular biologist and food scientist. You can follow him on Twitter @99blackbaloons , listen to his Spotify podcast George reads George, sign up for blog alerts below, or enjoy his books