Monday, January 12, 2009

The Sounds of Silence can be deafening

Do you know the sounds of silence and is there really such a thing?

Most of you don't know that my Grandparents mostly raised me, and that I was brought up in the old way working my back to the bone. But my Grandparents taught me many things that they thought were important (and they were right) They taught me to be intolerant of stupidity and ignorance. Now let me explain that last sentence, everyone is ignorant of many things no one has total knowledge. But I was taught that people who when given the chance and ability to learn and then choose not to, are stupid and are not to be tolerated, they are simply a hindrance to all of those around them. Now I'm 56 years old and it is the anniversary of the death of my Granddad, this has gotten me thinking of some of the things that he taught me.

Now my Granddad was an interesting man, firstly as a young man he served in the German army during world war one, then later served as an officer in the Waffen SS Armored Corps for the entire Second World War. The things that man must have seen and yet it never hardened him, or at least he never once let on that it had. He remained up until the time of his death the kindest, gentlest and most sensitive human that I have ever known. 

After the war my Granddad moved with his wife and sons to Canada, they moved with what they could carry or wear and nothing else. Some of you might know that my Granddad was a machinist and a damn good one at that as were his sons. This was one of the reasons that they were required to leave Germany and move to Canada as it was deemed that Germany was not to rebuild too quickly or easily. Ergo the best German machinists had to go, as anyone worth his or her salt knows that Machinists are the backbone or any industrialized nation.

Upon reaching Canada he was given plot of land of some 240 acres of swamp and the choice of becoming a farmer or  becoming a farmer. Another insult, He chose the later and the former but also became a blacksmith. Now even when I was a child this half horse Jew town was something right out of a cheap sort of western movie. Dirt streets, wooden sidewalks with rats the size of dash hounds living underneath, ( a lot of the rats had big hooked noses and I always thought they didn't interbreed) two livery stables but no Blacksmith shop.

Working as blacksmiths my granddad and my uncles all the while sort of farming the swamp managed to parlay that which they had into owning virtually all of the best land surrounding the town. They became big farmers. All the while the Blacksmith shop continued to grow into a full fledged machine shop as horses and buggies were on their way out. 

Even working insane hours in the shop he never gave up the farm, he started up a butcher shop to supply meat to the town, a small dairy for fresh milk. cream and butter mostly for the family, but it grew to insane proportions.
As well he started up a small apiary for honey, the bees were his pride and joy, he always called them his little buggers. Besides clover would grow well in the swampy land and made for both good honey and feed for the dairy cattle. The man never once missed a beat.  

However this post is not so much about my grandfather as it is about what he taught me.  

 First of all he taught me to never let some one else do for you that which you can do for yourself, that has always been very helpful. He also taught me how to shoot and never waste a bullet. I’m not to sure if that was such a good thing as when I joined the US army in 1968 at the tender age of 17 they saw what I could do and put me through Special Forces Sniper training. In the years from the latter part of 1968-to the beginning of 1971 I harmed a lot of people that had never harmed me, they simply wanted their own country back.. I don't think my Grandfather approved of what I had done but at least he never mentioned it other than to say that we all have to live with out own demons. It is a part of my life that I wish I could undo, alas I cannot.

More importantly He also taught me how to listen to the world, and I don't mean cars and radios and such, I mean the real world and nature. I remember one day while were in the bush waiting for a tagged bee to return so that we could establish a bee line to the hive in order that we could collect the Queen and her minions and take them home to our apiary. As we were sitting on a stump my Granddad asked me what I could hear? I listened and heard nothing and told him as much, I'll never forget the look of disappointment in his eyes,
When he asked me "you mean you hear nothing at all?” and I had to admit I heard nothing after all we were alone in the forest what was there to hear? He then put his hand on my shoulder and said you mean you can't hear the wind whispering though the trees, you can't hear the love songs of the crickets and the buzzing of the bee's or the cymbal of sun sound pinging off of that rock? You mean you can't hear your Grandmother as she worries about you?
He then said my good god boy there's a whole symphony out there playing just for you and you won't open your ears to hear it. Now I was 7 years old at the time and didn't really understand what he was trying to tell me.

It was the next year when he sent me out into the bush to find a new hive as we had lost one of ours . Now just sitting there with my compass and stopwatch waiting for the third bee I had tagged to return so that I could triangulate were the hive was, something strange happened.
 My ears seemed to open up and what I had thought to be silence was absolutely deafening. All I could hear was the breeze rustling through the leaves, the sounds of insects going about their daily business, the birds calling to one another, the sun bouncing off of the leaves and rocks and yes I could hear my Grandmother worrying about me. I knew that I must get home soon.

Later that afternoon I told my Granddad what had happened to me and that now I knew what he had meant. The look of joy on his face cannot be described, he then took my hand and shook it as he would shake the hand of an adult and said “welcome this place you will never be alone again, you have finally woken from a long sleep”.

What sleep I asked? He said the “sleep of ignorance” he said “the music was always playing for you but you chose not to listen, now go tell your Grandmother she has been waiting along time for you to awaken”.

The thing about all of this is that he was right I have never really been alone since, and for that I say Thank You Grandfather and I miss your wisdom.

And your gentle manner and I thank you for giving me something that so many others do not have a True Love for all of nature.

As always your Grandson 

p.s. My Grandfather died at an age of 104 years and worked untill he was 98.


Penny said...

what a wonderful story.
I especially liked the part where your granddad took you into the forest, and said listen.
I often think of that kind of stuff, how many people miss all the activity going on around them.

Often when I am out, I spot the hawks and vultures, way up high.
I always watch them.
But notice, the people around me don't.
Like they have tunnel vision. So narrowly focused they miss everything outside of that narrow tunnel. I feel sorry for them.

I remember one time, we were out, and we stopped along the way to check out mushrooms, and even took pictures of them, they are soo neat.
Some people passed by us, looking at us like- perplexed?
What are they doing?
I thought to myself, how much they were missing, if they couldn't see this neat mushroom, or those amazing birds, or this little bitty snake, whatever?

Odd, my grandmother has been a huge person in my life, equal to and in some ways surpassing my parents, I wonder what people like us gain from that relationship, that others do not have?
btw: silverfish I have my catscan next week. I am a little scared.
I am an admitted wimp.

nobody said...

Well Silv, that was perfectly marvellous.

It's spooky you talking about sound. I'm right this minute reading a book by a Danish fellow, Peter H√łeg, called The Quiet Girl. The hero has hearing that transcends the normal, ie. what everyone else can hear. It loosely functions as a supernatural ability. People are described as being in a given key, and he has the ability to discern certain truths etc. Frankly I don't care for his narrative layout (ie. the story is chopped up and I can't tell what's happening when) and I find his prose somewhat forced and clunky but the concept of hearing as a variety of ESP is just too fascinating. Subsequently I haven't given up on it and I'm ploughing on to find out what happens.

BTW - the quiet girl of the title is singular because she has no key and makes no sounds like normal people. She is a spooky little oasis of quiet and this bamboozles the hell out of our hero. The story is actually him chasing her to find out what it all means.

Otherwise, I kind of get it. I don't know about your neck of the woods but here birdwatchers are called 'twitchers'. This is interesting. It describes me perfectly and the 'twitch' is always in response to sound, or more specifically bird calls. In spite of the fact that I spend all day sitting in a room with the TV blaring, my ears are actually outside 'waiting' for two things. The first is a call I don't recognise. If I hear one I leap up and race outside. I have to move fast because this neighbourhood is ruled by a huge clan of noisy minors (perhaps the most common bird in Australia) who will drive off any other bird in ten seconds flat. Invariably I only get to see whatever it is as they flee the onslaught. The other sound is the alarm cry of the aforementioned minors. This means that there's a predator out there and if I'm quick I might get to see a kite, osprey, or sea eagle. Mind you, nine times out of ten it's just a dog. Tedious. But, I leap up regardless.

Oh! And people who aren't used to it (like the old man is now) are always taken by surprise, ha ha. One minute they're having a conversation with me and the next my head's jerked sideways and I'm leaping across the room. It really startles them.

That aside, how fortunate you were to have had someone like that in your life. Some people spend their whole lives searching for someone as, um, 'knowledgeable' as that. I don't know that knowledgeable is the right word but I expect you know what I'm getting at.

Thanks matey.

And Pen, speaking of cats cans, don't be a pussy, be a tiger, grrr!

the Silverfish said...

Not to wory about the Cats ass or as Nobody would say the Cats Can Penny.

It only looks like a giant pencil sharpner, well in truth it is like a giant pencil sharpner with it's cleverly hidden flaying knives an all. Hey they do have to remove the top of your head to see what your brain looks like after all.

I've heard that with all of the anesthetic it's relatively painless an what with the one thousand times the amount of radiation of a normal chest xray blasted straight to your brain, pain should be the last thing on your mind. or perhaps it might be. (Wink)

Be a trooper now and bite the bullet.

Penny said...

that is not soo comforting.....

nobody said...

Ayah! So cruel! (winky smiley thing)

john said...

nice one Silverfish

Yes, so many sounds, some of which I hear and some of which I don't, taking the time to listen seems to help, still learning, thanks mate.

john said...

Oh and Penny, don't be too scared, next week will soon be over and done with, it's usually the waiting and thinking about it that's the hard part. All the best.

Penny said...

thanks for the encouragement john.

Penny said...

btw: how are you today silverfish?
you smart alec!

winky thing
as nobody says
winky thing?
he is a bit of a silly goose eh?

nobody said...

Honk! Honk!

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