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Tuesday, 17 May 2011

What Counts

By Johna Ferguson

Everyone has their own method to relax not only their body but their mind. Some people exert their body in exercise and at the same time, they say, clear their minds. Others lose themselves watching TV whether make-believe stories, documentaries or the like. They say they get so engrossed in watching the screen they forget everything else.

Others go for a stroll, perhaps through the woods or along the waterfront. It seems to have a calming effect, the lovely scenery or the sound of the birds or of the lapping of the waves on the shore. Then there are those that luckily can fall asleep at odd times of the day, and lose themselves snuggled under a quilt on the davenport or in a rocking chair.

Now I have tried all the above out and found none really worked that well. A few years back I ran every evening after dinner before bed, maybe a mile or so, but now I find my body just won’t take that constant pounding on the cement. I do admit however, I really lost myself in the run and only thought about putting my next foot down.

I’ve spent some time watching TV but I got so engrossed with what was on the screen I didn’t relax at all, but got completely wound up in what was happening. I did momentarily forget anything bothering me but it surfaced as soon as I turned off the TV.

When my children were young and put me under constant pressure to do this or that, I would often say, “No, not now. It’s mom’s time and I am going for a short walk along the beach. You all just sit and read books; don’t cause any problems until I get back.”

But in the back of my mind, even though I breathed deeply of the salty air and listened to the waves come and go, I was always worrying about what and where my children where. My body relaxed, but not my mind.

I have found the best way for me to relax is to find a nice, warm comfortable place to sit and read a book. My body slumps down and my mind gets involved completely in what I am reading, be it a magazine or a book. It doesn’t even really matter what the subject is, just having the printed words in front of my eyes seems to make them want to just follow along word after word automatically until I relax and often fall asleep, no matter where I am.

Someone asked me once, “If you had to lose your sight or your hearing which one would you choose to keep?” Reading is so important to me, so at first I though I could never get along without my sight, but over the years I have changed my opinion.

Now I realize how shut out deaf people are. Living part-time in a country where I do not speak or understand the language pointed up that fact. It must be very disconcerting to not know what people are saying all the time.

Granted, losing one’s eye sight would also be terrible, but there are other methods to manage that loss; one can get a Seeing Eye dog, learn to read Braille and listen to books on tape. Once you have seen, other people can describe in words what you no longer see, but if you can’t hear there is no music in the world, no birds singing, no horns honking, no telephones ringing.

As I age, my eye sight is slowly failing and may one day will be gone, but I will hopefully still be able to hear my grandchildren’s voices, hear the neighbor’s cat meow and all the wonderful cacophony of sounds in life out there in our wonderful world.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Instructions for submitting are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


I once thought that being deaf was just the inability to hear but after working with deaf children for a number of years I learned it is much more that that. There are subtleties in the world that are void to the deaf person. We don't realize how much we absorb just by hearing what is around us.

I came to appreciate the impact of hearing loss with my husband. He had a profound hearing loss along with the challenge of Alzheimers disease. It became clear over time, how he really was isolating it can be. To enjoy conversation with groups of people was impossible. That coupled with the darkness of memory loss about things we take for granted....

I often wonder in public places how often we mistake someone with hearing loss for rude or something else..in nyc there is a large school for deaf children somewhere near the l4th st giant subway station and I remember how I hated to get caught in their dismissal times, it was so chaotic for some reason, underground with all that noise and then seemingly trapped within these teens, signing and very physical...never gave a thought to them being trapped within my world...thought of that as I read your piece Linda, what a sad existence for sure..Great piece to ponder as always.....thanks..

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