Monday, January 18, 2010

Water and the machine

I had an adventure this past Thursday night and Friday morning.

My hearing aid stopped working. 

This is always a curious experience, because not only is it a machine, it's also my hearing.  When a machine breaks down, you're appropriately put-out while you run through the list of possible reasons.  On the other hand, when your hearing breaks down, a host of other, more dire, concerns pushes to the forefront: am I losing what little hearing I have left? have I been afflicted with some disease of the ear?  will I be able to continue my present job if I'm completely deaf?  will I ever hear the birds again?!

I had to wait until the audiologist's office opened Friday morning.  When you have to wait, your concerns tend to multiply and take over your existence.  Thursday night and early Friday morning I kept clicking my tongue and calling the cats, just to assure myself that what little hearing I had was still functional (it was...but I had to be sure).  During the half hour drive to the audiologist's office, I started over-analyzing every vibration in the car, almost certain it was going to break down on me.

Then I told myself to get over it, shoved all my little worries into the back of my head, and let my mind wander.  Thinking is a lot easier when you don't have any sounds to distract you.  I can't recall most of what I daydreamed--for all I know, I was close to figuring out the meaning of life.  Then I got to the audiologist, where she pulled out a box of what looked like torture devices, fiddled around with the tubes of my hearing aid, poked out a 1/4 inch filter and restored my hearing. 

"These things are more trouble than they're worth," she said, holding up the tiny slip of filter, which had become logged with moisture.  Moisture is what obstructed my hearing.  I couldn't help but feel a new-found appreciation for the elements of nature.  We construct all manner of devices to overcome the inconveniences that nature puts in our way, and she can still manage to be inconvenient.

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