Wow Moments – A Heart Grateful for Hearing
By Gael Hannan, Hearing Health Matters, 8/27/2013
As of this week, wow has taken on a new meaning, thanks to a book called Help, Thanks, Wow. I picked up this short and unusual book on prayer simply because it’s written by one of my favorite, funniest authors, Anne Lamott (to whom I’m eternally grateful for this new life-dimension). She describes wow as:
“… often offered with a gasp, a sharp intake of breath when we can’t think of another way to capture the sight of shocking beauty ..of a sudden unbidden insight…or by the miraculous…”
The dictionary defines ‘wow’ as an interjection used to express wonder, amazement, or great pleasure – or a noun meaning an outstanding success. But wow-invoking moments are not just the uppercase WOW’s as in seeing the mountains for the first time, but also the lowercase wow of a well-done peanut butter sandwich.
And because most of my trains of thoughts ultimately head in one direction, I started thinking about wow moments related to hearing and hearing loss. I had one almost immediately.
I realized that in striving to live successfully with hearing loss, I too often use negative phrasing such as, “I can’t hear very well.” I fixate on its glum aspects: my hearing aid gives feedback while I’m brushing my teeth, the constant need to remind people to face me, face me, face me. My mantra has been that our goal, rather than hearing well, which may be unattainable, should be to communicate to our best ability, using speechreading, amplification, text alternatives, blah-de-blah-blah.
Well, guess what? I also like to hear. Yes, I do! And because I can! And that’s the WOW!
I don’t hear everything, of course. Some things I can’t hear at all, like a cat purring (unless I lay my head right on its tummy, and then I have to pick cat fur out of my hearing aid) or that stupid triangle instrument at the back of the orchestra. Other things I hear less well than ‘hearing’ people.
But the wow is in realizing that I prefer to hear over not hearing, and that I’m grateful to hear as well as I do. And even more wow-y: I’m not going to apologize for it. That might sound strange to a person who doesn’t have hearing loss. But those of us in the hearing advocacy world sometimes feel we have to downplay our pursuit of better hearing, worrying that we might insult or upset those who are deaf and prefer to remain so.
But hearing is not a political act; it’s one of my natural senses that I choose to pursue and to enhance – it’s included in how I want to live and communicate.
Some wow-WOWs from my personal inventory:
- That moment after you have taken a mop and broom to your hearing aid (or CI) – changing your wax guard, unplugging the air vent, changing batteries, blowing moisture out of the ear tubing, or a tune-up at the hearing care place. WOW, you hear so much better, it’s like gaining back a few decibels!
- Hearing the consonants in perfectly articulated speech. This is a rare event for me. When my own father (who was forced to take elocution lessons by his teacher mother) and Alan Rickman speak, I can hear all the (say these to yourself softly) kuh’s and puh’s and tuh’s. It sounds like elves giggling in the bushes. Oh, wow.
For more of Gael’s wow-WOWs: http://hearinghealthmatters.org/betterhearingconsumer/2013/wow-moments-a-heart-grateful-for-hearing/
Distributed 2013 by Northern Virginia Resource Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Persons (NVRC), 3951 Pender Drive, Suite 130, Fairfax, VA 22030; www.nvrc.org; 703-352-9055 V, 703-352-9056 TTY, 703-352-9058 Fax. Items in this newsletter are provided for information purposes only; NVRC does not endorse products or services. You do not need permission to share this information, but please be sure to credit NVRC. This news service is free of charge, but donations are greatly appreciated.