Monday, June 29, 2015


From time to time I am going to be talking about hearing loss in this space. I considered doing a blog entirely devoted to the subject but decided to approach the issue from the side, so to speak. My thoughts and comments about hearing loss may be collected instead in a separate page on this blog. For now, it will be HEAR HEAR #1 and #2 and so on. That cumbersome notation may also change.

I will make a special effort to avoid self-pity. Sometimes it descends on me like a hangover. I do not enjoy it. It’s non-productive and even destructive. Yet it’s no fun walking around with obscenely expensive hearing aids in my ears that often do not perform up to their advertised standards and without which I am virtually deaf. It leaves me feeling profoundly vulnerable.

WHY TALK ABOUT IT AT ALL? It helps me. If I can put words on my experience it helps me to see ways I might be able to optimize my hearing ability. Also it helps to dissipate my frustration and sadness at being unable to participate fully in life as I have always done. I find myself using my hearing loss as an excuse to avoid encounters where it is assumed that I can hear well. I don’t, for instance, attend live performances anymore. I’d love to attend author readings at the library but there is music that comes across as so much unpleasant noise and writers, in my experience, are some of the most inept public speakers. I simply can not win, so I take the path that’s easiest for me and avoid such things. Being a natural loner, I seem to be able to make the most of this condition, but I don’t like it.

I suspect that many of you experience, from time to time, difficulty hearing in certain environments. It may be that you sense the onset of some hearing loss yourself. Your comments would be welcomed and would appear at the end of each post. How do you deal with such conditions? Have you ever had a hearing test? Do you often find yourself asking, “What did you say?” or something like that? Have you ever pretended to understand, and did not? It is the insidious nature of any disability that it’s always there. In the end, your life is moulded around it like a form fitting coat. It doesn’t necessarily define you, but it becomes a consideration in just about everything you do.

Jerry Henderson      Until next time…

Thursday, June 25, 2015


I was leaving Maine Mall the other day and a woman with an infant in her arms was walking toward me and talking on the phone which was held between her shoulder and ear. Hands free - so to speak. She seemed to be doing all of the talking. The child was asleep.

One crowded day on Bradbury Mountain, two young women were were hiking together and both were talking nearly simultaneously, oblivious to the mystic beauty of the surrounding forest. Just to be fair, I did see, on another occasion in very nearly the same place a man talking on a cell phone as he hiked the Boundary Trail. At least he was breathing clean mountain air.

The times I have noticed someone talking on a phone while driving are too many to count. Sometimes I blow my horn at them. But I drift afield. This is not about the telephone. It’s about the constant need to talk. The phone is simply an instrument that extends the possibilities.

I have seen groups of men jogging and talking all at once. I don’t get it. Jogging for me, when I could do it, was a cherished solitary time of meditation - and sweating. Out on Monhegan Island, where trail walking is as near nirvana as you can get in this life, I have seen groups chattering up a storm about some off-island subject that would have been more at home in Maine Mall. Maybe that’s where they would have preferred to be. I found myself wishing they were there.

It could be said that you can constantly talk and appreciate the beauty and mystery all around. You could say that, but for me that’s a bit of a stretch. For me it’s in quietness that you hear wind song in the forest. It’s in quietness that you hear your heart and perhaps find yourself. It’s in quietness that the wonder of life in any situation reveals itself.

I have often said it: I love conversation. It is the gift of humanity - that social engine  whereby we know each other. Yet, a time comes when to talk is like a barrier behind which we hide ourselves from discovery and revelation. Besides, what’s to talk about when all around the creation is seeking your attention with her arms filled with treasures?

Friday, June 19, 2015


One would think, that after hundreds of years of lessons taught and wars fought and children of ours and others as well dying, that the people of the world would see the futility of hate, the laughable arrogance of bigotry and the palpable sense of brother and sisterhood that we all - every last person on this planet - share.

This monster in Charleston is not a sicko who needs understanding. We all understand him. He is a raw criminal who has brought to a keen focus the truth that there are those among us who would slaughter a huge segment of our population simply on the basis of skin color. This is a learned response to the human condition. We are not born to hate. It’s a doctrine pounded into us by mother and father, church, synagogue and mosque. Those centers of culture that we depend upon for our direction, have failed and become complicit in the propagation of the culture of hate.

And we are all complicit in the way we stand by and fail to be a voice for what we know is right. There is no lack of targets for our indignation, but until we see how each of us individually is part of the problem not much will be accomplished. If we wait for politicians to fix this thing we will be sorely disappointed. Religious forces are not going to do it either. In many ways religion is one of the root causes of our present condition.

It’s going to require a revolution of ONE. The ONE of you and the ONE of me. In the end, we might come together, but it can’t depend on that. Even if there is only ONE, then it must begin there.

Sunday, June 7, 2015


It’s distressing, distracting and depressing trying to understand what is being said in groups of more than two at a gathering of more than two that includes food, alcohol and good humor and loud music. The complaint has more to do with my disability than what other people think or do about it. Others can do nothing except make room for it while I experience acute exclusion from the main stream. Entire events happen and I know nothing of what was the core subject of conversation. This results in an attitude of frustration and rejection of normal social activity. Not a healthy condition at all.

I have been doing some research into the problem and have found that much is being done to define the issue of hearing loss, but little done to actually address the issue. Things like cochlear implants, high priced hearing aids and tele-coil installations are beneficial but seem not to migrate into the lives of the every day consumer who needs such interventions, even if they can afford them.

These efforts are huge but comparatively small when put up beside the amounts being spent on other technologies that have little to do with the quality of life for millions of people. Little will happen, perhaps, until the “Boomer” generation wakes up one sunny day to realize that they can no longer hear birdsong. That day isn’t far off.
What is so attractive about noise?

This can be traced directly to the modern phenomenons of earbuds piping loud music directly onto the ear drum, the idea that loud is the same as fun and quiet no longer is associated with a nice place to have a drink or a gentle meal. I won’t even bring TV or the local MultiPlex into the mix as it is too obvious to mention.

Not enough is being done to treat the condition and less is being done to deal with the environmental source of the problem. Until noise is seen as a pathological condition, the issue will persist. Quiet is good, and should be valued above noise of any kind.

I tried to find a cute line to end this with but came up with only this: Hearing is not necessarily understanding and silence is really golden.