Search This Blog

Saturday, February 7, 2015

The Percussion of Life

I was sitting here eating a very soft cream cheese garlic dip with some very hard rice crackers and thinking about hiking in the woods.

When I go for walks I like to use some very old hiking boots that have Vibram soles that are hard rubber.  I don't know if they make this kind of boot anymore.

Is anyone old enough to remember when you could hear people walking?  When shoes made a "click clack" sound, and you could tell when someone was coming up behind you?  It used to be something that could scare you in a movie...hearing the tapping of shoes coming up behind some unsuspecting character.  

It is spooky to have lived long enough to remember sounds that don't exist anymore.  It makes me wonder if anyone ever recorded them.  Or noticed that they are gone.  Like the "Ding Ding" sound in Boston Store when there was a call for an employee.  I loved that sound.  I rediscovered it when I was in a store that sold yoga style items and there was a single metal rod suspended by string above a solid piece of wood, and when you hit the bar -- there it was, that sound.

Sounds can bring back memories for me just like smells do.  It doesn't have to be just words, or the sound of a voice, but simple sounds, like a telephone ringing, or static on the television.  I recently bought an antique phone that had an analog bell ringer, (you know, an actual Bell, inside the phone.)  I discovered that the bell was louder than I remembered it, and also, the phone works so much better than my cell phone in terms of quality of sound that I use this phone more than any of the other 8 phones we own.  Except that dialing it is trouble, because it has the rotary dialer, and you can't "talk" to the automated voices without a push-button phone.

And then there is that rotary dial sound...I guess it could be copied and so that is why the phone companies stopped using it.

Anyway, back to the cream cheese and crackers.  I have a dream... I wish for shoes that make a sound when you walk.  That tap, tap, tap that everyone used to make.

Here is the quasi-science behind it that I like to spout about.  I know that most people like to have some crunch in their snacks.  And why is that?  I wondered.  I usually like softer things, but cream cheese is not as interesting by itself.  Maybe it is the contrast of textures.

But I think that there is broader reason, beyond the sensory, and that is that our bones need to have percussion to grow.  Our teeth are bones, our nails, our toenails, and our feet and wherever we interact with the world, it is much easier to navigate in space when we bump up against things physically.  It tells us where we are.  It tells us who we are when we bump up against people, and their differing ideas and feelings.  Isolation is the most feared thing to people, so much so that it is our ultimate punishment of each other.  Shunning, solitary confinement, ect.  Sensory deprivation can cause lifelong damage to an infant's nervous system.  In sensory deprivation states we can hallucinate.

I think that when we live in too soft a world, like the elderly do, when the floors have carpeting, the shoes have gel inserts, the soles of the shoes have soft rubber so that we can all walk silently, and all our furniture is padded and cushioned, our car seats are molded to fit us perfectly, and everything is smoothies and soup and nothing is hard.... then when we fall, we fail

We fail to grow bone, we fail to grow emotionally, we remain immature in any area that we don't bump up against our environment and our community.

I was my Grandmother's Guardian until she died.  Her worst health event was a fall, when she broke a hip.  Why did her hip get so fragile?  I am sure it was in part our SAD diet (Standard American Diet.)   But it might also be partly our lifestyle. 

My son has a disability where he has nerve damage below the waist.  Traditionally, people with this disability have a very shortened stature from the waist down.  Particularly if they cannot walk.  But we worked very hard with therapists to help him learn to walk very early, with braces, walkers, crutches, and using theraputic electric stim.  (very mild, it feels like a tickle) he began to walk and his lower body became longer and stronger and now he is taller than most everyone with his disability.  He still needs braces and he uses a wheelchair for longer distances than a block, but he walks around the house and at work.
Medically, if he stopped walking, he could lose bone mass in his lower extremities.  Many times a person who can't walk can easily break a bone because of bone loss in the limbs that are not used.

It is my opinion that to prevent bone loss as we age, we should all go back to shoes that have hard soles, (though not slippery soles, those can be reserved for dancing.)  At least part of the time.

I remember when soft soled shoes became popular.  They started with Keds.  Then it was Sailing shoes.  (I actually was a sailor, so I thought they were going to remain a specialty sport shoe, but I was wrong.)  I wore them, but I remember liking the hiking boots better.  I liked them for walking around campus.  I liked the way they made my legs and feet feel.

Maybe it is something to do with Autism.  Being mildly on the Autism spectrum, I might be like Temple Grandin when she invented her squeeze machine.  It feels good to have pressure on your bones.  I used to do something called Sensory Integration on my son when he was young, recommended by his OT.  Part of it involved putting firm pressure on each joint by pushing the limbs into the joint (it doesn't hurt, but feels good to the child.) 

Some sounds can remain in history.  I can hear a very wide range of sounds, this is not bragging, because it is very annoying many times because those extra-sensory sounds get in the way of normal range hearing, like hearing the human voice in conversations.  I used to hear a sound that I was told came from the alarm system at Boston Store.  It was very high-pitched, and very loud.  It was so loud that after a few minutes I would get dizzy and nauseous and I would try to leave as soon as possible.  My mother never understood and I thought she could hear this sound too, but I didn't understand why it didn't bother her as much as it bothered me.

There is also a sound that a television makes when it gets old... we had an old TV when I was married and it seemed that my ex was always watching TV.  So it was on all the time.  And it made this horrendous, high-pitched shriek that made it hard to hear what was on the program being broadcast.  I think my ex thought I was making it up, but when we got a newer television I never complained about it again.

There are some sounds that are out in public that make me wonder how the wildlife, and pets must feel.  For instance, I was pumping gas at a gas station and there was this very loud high-pitched sound coming out of the equipment.  It took me some time to decide not to say anything to the attendant, because at first I thought it was an indication that something was wrong with it.  But I looked around me and no one else that was there seemed to hear it, and then I realized that if the attendant couldn't hear it they might think I was crazy.

Street lights have this sound sometimes, and it can be very loud.  If you have to have special listening devices to hear these sounds, then how would anyone know that they are there?  I am sure that many types of animals can hear these sounds.  I have another wish.  And this is that we find out what sound range the local pets and wildlife can hear, and that these frequencies are monitored in every piece of equipment we create and put into this world.  Because sometimes when we think that animals are acting strangely, maybe it is because they can hear things we cannot.  And if they can't shut it off, or fix it, or get away from it, then that would drive anything crazy.  This goes for smells, too.

So I am trying to find hiking boots with hard rubber soles.  I want to hear the sound I make when I walk.  I want to hear the rhythm of walking.  I know I can put on music to keep my rhythm up, but there always was rhythm before there was music.  The rhythm of life has a sound, and moving through life has rhythm.

I might go out and buy some taps for my shoes.  It might sound a little too much, but better too much than too little rhythm for me.