Catch the right waves

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Ariel Fana’afi Ioane

Stop.

Unplug your earphones, headphones, you know what, turn the phone off. 

Open your ears and take the time to listen to your surroundings. 

What do you catch? Maybe it’s the rain pitter-pattering outside your window.  

Is it a light spray or a heavy storm?

Maybe you hear the fan, or the short breaths of air, rushing in and out of your nostrils. 

Or is it your mother’s voice calling a name you somehow answer to, a sound you have learned from years of repetition that it’s addressing you? 

Here’s what I hear. 

I hear the soft clicks from my laptop’s keyboard, meshing together with the creaking crickets, who as usual, are creating a symphony of scratching sounds to farewell the sun and welcome the blanket of dusk. 

I hear my siblings’ laughter in the background, playing tag in our house, weaving their way around the tall posts that hold the traditional architecture up. 

Being able to listen and identify sounds, noise, music- is a luxury not all of us have. 

Over five percent of the world’s population (approximately 360 million) suffer from some form of hearing loss. There are various causes.

Some are inevitable, such as presbycusis, which is hearing loss due to aging, and birth defects. 

Ninety percent of these children born with defects are born to hearing parents. Currently, there are 25 genes that have been identified to be associated with hearing loss. 

In both cases, the inability to hear is relatively equal in both ears.

However, most causes of impaired hearing are due to injuries to either the individual’s head or a direct hit to the ear itself; constant exposure to loud sounds like bombshells, construction work, or your car speakers blasting music. 

Even a single gunshot from afar can permanently damage your ears. A common cause of hearing impairment (and eventually hearing loss) are common ear infections where the inside of the ear becomes inflamed. 

As a toddler, I had a lot of hearing problems due to infections and at the age of two, I took a Pediatric Conditioned Play Audiometry (CPA) test in New Zealand. 

This test examines a child’s ability to hear different pitches and volumes of noise by making a game out of it. I was told to sit in a small room alone with a stack of plastic cups and a big set of headphones strapped to my head. 

The aim of the game was to take a cup from the stack and place it on my left side whenever I heard a beep from the headphones. 

Little did my two-year-old brain know, that each beep was a different pitch and volume. 

According to my mum, out of the 15 cups, I only moved three or four across. If I didn’t have a few operations immediately after, I’d be living a life vastly different to the one I live now. 

However, sometimes people with perfectly good hearing choose to be deaf to certain things. 

Whenever something unpleasant comes up in the news, local or international- we choose to pretend like we didn’t hear a thing and go on with our lives, hoping that whatever happened to that family won’t happen to your own.

I admit, some days I choose to be selective with my hearing when my parents instruct me. 

Yes, I heard the part about eating the leftover cake; no, I never heard you say anything about feeding the cat. 

Ring a bell?

In the Word, we are instructed to keep our ears open to God’s teachings, so that He can explain things that are normally hidden to us, as well as things we think we already understand. 

Most of us tend to tune out when it comes to God, and I admit, I’ve done it more times than I can count.

That’s not the point though. 

What matters is that you tune your ears back towards Him, and wait for His wisdom to pour unto you. 

Open your ears to my teachings, my people. Turn your ears to the words from my mouth. I will open my mouth to illustrate points. I will explain what has been hidden long ago, things that we have heard and known about, things that our parents have told us.

-Psalm 78:1-4

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