Now, I don't usually use earbuds, but this morning my soul seemed to have taken a masochistic streak onboard and I found myself trying to clean my problematic ears with the cotton-tipped devils.
I know you're not supposed to stick anything smaller than your elbow into your ear. I know that, OK? But there I was, twiddling the little plastic stems into ears which have the greatest difficulty staying unblocked as it is, never mind the outside interference.
Up until that point, I had one ear which has been working fairly well over the past 6 months, while the other generates a white-noise-like hum at all times and has difficulty in catching sound waves. But I could get along.
Now, however, I find myself cocooned in a roaring silence through both ears. I'm not at all comfortable with this - in fact, I'm more than a little irritated and so am constantly on the edge of being irritating to others.
I have to keep telling them, for instance, that today I'm deaf as a post. Not distracted, not just a little hard-of-hearing, but actually unable to divine anyone's meaning unless I'm either looking at them and reading their lips, or they talk very slowly and loudly, as you would do to an imbecile.
On the other hand, of course, there are so many things in this world that I'm probably better off not hearing. The local and international news. The godsdamned gunfire-soaked shows which pass for American Entertainment. My partner muttering in a tourette's-syndrome like manner under his breath. The neighbourhood dogs barking and howling to be let in out of the cold.The taxis and mal-tuned engines along West Street. The outer office inhabitants having a meeting. The endless, inane, low-intelligence drivel which passes for social conversation. Adverts-any and all adverts.
Muting or cutting these out should be an unalloyed blessing. but I'm still irritated. I guess I would like the chance to, hearing, complain about them.
And yet it's not a total descent into madness. Walking out onto the deck - the traffic muted, the chatter of other people almost entirely absent - I hear one clear, liquid string of notes coming from the trees. I cannot see the songbird, but he has let me know that I've not been abandoned, after all.