Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Universal Hum

I'm sitting at my desk and hear a low drone from the city park outside. It actually seems to be coming from multiple points around the park. I step outside the office to investigate.

Four men with leaf-blowers strapped to their backs stroll around the park, pointing the hoses of their machines towards piles of recalcitrant leaves and dirt, flotsam and jetsam left over from the winter.

Closing my eyes, the leaf-blowers sound like chanting Tibetan monks rather than annoying, fossil-fuel burning machines of convenience. Each time one of the men pulls the trigger on his blower, it strikes up a pronounced hum ---"Huuu---ummmmmmm", followed moments later by yet another----"Huuuuu---uuuuuuuuum", the stress being on the first "syllable", like a monk or meditator chanting "Om". Changing my perspective just ever so slightly, this unsightly and potentially bothersome mechanical sound becomes part and parcel of the universal hum, the underlying drone of the world.

Walking next to a busy highway or tuning into the drone of a plane overhead---it can all be as soothing as an ocean or as bothersome as a mosquito in the ear. Perspective means everything.

Sitting back at my desk, the drone is more faint but still noticeable. I smile as I get back to work, the universal hum outside the window signaling that the world outside goes on, even as I am suspended in the relative enclosure of my desk, tucked into the corner of our busy office.

Phones ring, beepers chime, the fax machine groans, conversations around the room rise and fall. Can I integrate even these sounds as part of the universal drone, the hum of my world? Placing a phone call, I have to put a finger in my ear to hear the person on the other end of the line. Sometimes it's just noise, and other times it's transcendent. When I can't hear myself think, it's noise.

So, a faux haiku, with your indulgence, dear Reader:

Leafblowers in the distance
dust swirls
noisy office din
ear plugs, please.
Post a Comment