In the film, "The Sound of Music" Julie Andrews was seen striding down the mountain slope trilling merrily about the hills being alive with the sound of music. I know someone who saw the film over thirty times. Do you think such 'honey-sweet' music would cause young and old as much pleasure these days as it did over forty years ago?
Only a few days ago I had been searching for something, a word, an incident, anything that would get me started in writing a blog for this column. Well, there was I in a minibus in the beautiful tropical island of Grenada, waiting for it to fill up so that we could get moving. My curious eye cast this way and that . Was my prayer being answered? There on the windscreen of of the bus was written,
'IF IT'S TOO LOUD, YOU'RE TOO OLD.'
Now I'm not one to take offence at this slogan as being insulting to us elderly. I ponder, 'Is this a defining truth that is meant for Peter, the blogger, here in the very environment where sound is often at its most strident?' Here some youngsters, but not all of them, might ask the driver to turn up the volume, and one of my age, but not all, might beg that it be turned down. Since this situation occurs so frequently I can't help wondering if there's some correspondence between the generation gap and the breaking of the sound barrier.
The good Lord has provided a comfort zone of volume and pitch for each of the creatures to which he has given the faculty of hearing. A herd of elephants is charmed at the melody of trumpeting to each other. A swarm of bats finds joy in their choir of shrill twittering. By nature we of the human family come somewhere between these extremes. Nowadays, modern technology allows us to amplify sound almost ad infinitum or at the turn of a knob to eliminate it completely.
It's been suggested that those who continuously bombard their ears with exceedingly loud music may eventually become 'hearing impaired.' If so, such partial deafness will have been self-inflicted. I've also read that on-going loud music jangles the nerves, causing people to be irritable. it wouldn't surprise me if it's true.
What an ironic contrast that while ageing people tend to become 'hard of hearing' and have to resort to hearing aids, young people may be on course to 'deafening' themselves. As for me, at the Sunday liturgy of all places, I'm deprived of serene piety by amplified guitars, key-boards and percussion instruments. Little does the choir, ecstatic in its music making, realise the orchestra is preventing their every prayerful sound, their every inspiring word, from being heard!
Still, I'm able to cope, though with suffering and most certainly not in silence.
I would like to give some 'sound' advice to those youths to whom it may apply -that they should be more considerate to elderly people like me, in public places and especially under the family roof, where those of different generations make up their homes and seek their peace together. And I'm truly concerned about what the young are doing to themselves by subjecting their ears to greater sound than they were ever meant to tolerate...possibly doing far more harm to themselves than they would ever have imagined.
In my concern for them I hope that even now they experience the beauty of silence...as we learn from the prophet Elijah, in the passage in which I find so much solace:-
"Then the Lord went by.
There came a mighty wind, so strong that it tore the mountains and shattered the rocks before the Lord.
But the Lord was not in the wind.
After the wind came an earthquake.
But the Lord was not in the earthquake.
After the earthquake came a fire.
But the Lord was not in the fire.
And after the fire
came the sound of a gentle breeze.
And when Elijah heard this, he covered his face with his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.
Then a voice came to him..."
(1 Kings 19)
Surely that's: god'swaymyway!
Next week Isidore will meet God in a Pot of Jam