Seven years ago, I woke up looking at a moving hospital ceiling. I was being carted in, voices sounding off around me; all informing each other information pertaining to what they know of my status and how to find out more. I calmly asked, "Where am I?"
A female voice informs me that I'm in the hospital and that I had been hit by a car while cycling.
Despite the imagery of the hospital ceiling, it is the sound of the hustle and bustle within the emergency room that I remember most. The wheels of the gurney, the cutting of the scissors and the resultant tearing of fabric as my clothing was removed, the blips and whirs of the sensory machinery and the voices of the doctors and nurses all communicating the state of affairs. All sounds that echoed through the chambers of the hospital; each new room affecting the vibrancy of these noises in different ways.
I don't remember the accident. The last image I remember is that of a pickup truck cresting a hill half a mile away. I was hit by car - an Oldsmobile 88. The truck is simply a quaint image in my mind, inconsequential to the accident. I remember what I was listening to, though. The driving music that allows me to soar while cycling. It was a radio playlist of the Jungle subgenre recorded from the radio waves of London during the mid 90's. I believe that the song playing was Peshay's "On the Nile".
Where there was a void of consciousness the music kept flowing into existence. My subconscious mind soaking up the beautiful unintrusive sounds. There is a lapse in time during my life, but I remember that these sounds continued; I remember it fondly.
When the music stopped, I came out of this void. I'm unsure if it was because they took my headphones out; I don't know at what point in time they were removed.
One thing for certain is that this persistent sound kept me calm when I came back. The sound played a part in the fact I felt like I had just woken up from the best sleep of my life.
The accident occurred during the first semester in which I was back in college. The accident helped provide motivation to obtain my AAS in Web Development and Programming. The motivation carried on towards my earning a BS in Computer Science. As of this writing, I am working on an MCS of Computer Science. Motivation has taken me to the University of Iowa, a school known for medical pursuits.
One aspect of my routine is to spend time at the steps of the old capitol building here in Iowa City. I do this as a means to find individuals whom are willing to connect. It also is a good spot for mindful meditation as the breeze easily collects upon the steps.
The sound of the hospital helicopter occasionally echoes throughout the valley that these steps overlook. Before my education had taken me to the campus grounds, I had visited the hospital across the river. I remember the sounds of the helicopter engine and rotor without the associated doppler. A constant hum from the interior cabin as I was taken to the same hospital rooftop that I now regularly look upon. A precautionary trip on account of my restful loss of consciousness.
During my undergraduate education, I found it difficult to connect with the peers who were studying what I was. I did find myself leaning towards musicians, though. Two of the most meaningful friendships I formed were with two musicians, Aaron and Clayton. Many fond memories of either picking away at their guitars while humming a tune and providing a good atmosphere to exist in.
This fact still holds true during my first year of graduate school. I'm finding it difficult to connect with my peers. I've only recently been discovering pockets of artists and musicians alike.
A few Thursdays ago, I had to proctor a test. The sun had set by the time this task was complete; an event which I prefer to witness upon the steps. I decided to walk by to see if anyone had stuck around. Arriving, I heard the resonant drone of two guitars, one amplified. The reverb struck a chord in me - a very warm sound which reminded me of Caspian's "Loft".
I climbed the steps past two gentlemen who were playing and humming. A peaceful twenty minutes ensued as we overlooked the valley. About ten minutes in, the sound of a helicopter bounced around the environment as it passed overhead towards the hospital rooftop. The calming sounds produced by the two men alleviated any anxiety on my part; it was okay.
When they concluded, I approached and told them that I really appreciated the sounds they were putting out. I say that I hope they gather again. It seems they appreciate this. We exchange names; Their names are Mike and Sean.
I parted ways after a brief verbal interaction. I headed to the local Kombucha bar and had a nice conversation with a new acquaintance. A psychiatrist who works at the university hospital. Our discussions are always insightful and meaningful. Never a too brief verbal interaction.
Upon the conclusion, she steps away. I sit in silence for a moment after hearing the building's front door open and then close with her departure.
Silence is interupted, "Hello Alan."
I hesitate, then focus to see a man with a guitar on his back and portable amp in hand.
"Hello Sean," I respond.
He follows up, "You get a second show."
Sean asks the barkeep if he can play in the store. Of course, Connor says yes.
What followed is another hour and a half of the soft, warm, and powerful sounds of Sean and his guitar while Connor and I witness this warm moment in time.
Occasionally, a lull in the music would happen. These moments were accompanied by the constant warm hum of the idle amp. A sound that was occasionally punctuated by the brief soft scrape of the porcelain mug against the countertop, followed shortly by a sip as Sean takes a moment to have some tea.
The sound of heels clapping the ground would sometimes work its way in through the window as someone passes. An indistinguishable voice peaks in the distance, followed by a murmur of laughter as the muted ambient sounds of the city met the soft hum of the interior of the shop.
The porcelain mug makes contact with the countertop. And the warm music begins to fill the air again.
Only one time before in my life had I felt so at ease; only one time before had I felt so well rested from sound.
The connectivity of sound is something I'm still exploring. I think there is some primal essence that is too easy to neglect in our lives; lives where it is too easy to categorize one thing from another. I've before described a person as both visually and aurally noisy. I would describe Sean, pictured above, as both visually and aurally sound.
-I appreciate the connection we've made Sean.