7:45 am – I hear the tink of small plastic parts, of tiny Pony shoe box lids capping tiny Pony shoe boxes. I hear the kids’ sweet voices as they play, turning less sweet as our daughter’s voice escalates to an ugly “That’s Mine!” that makes me cringe. I hear the occasional car passing outside our window. The ticking of the clock. The scratch of my pen across the paper.
9:00 am – The splattering of shower water on the hard plastic tub. Soft thumping of little feet on carpet outside the bathroom door. A distant cough. Water streaming through my hair, pouring and dripping in clatters and clicks. A thousand drops of water splashing my back, my head, gently streaming down my neck. The soft muffle of a towel drying my hair, my face, my ears.
9:15 am – A cacophony in the confines of the car – Iron & Wine singing one song in the CD player, our son singing (yelling) “Frosty the Snowman” in the back seat, and our daughter singing (yelling) yet a third song, which I don’t recall because I didn’t hear her, because I was trying to talk over the din, telling my husband how interesting it is to listen consciously.
11:00 am – The rush of endorphins coursing through my body, swishing behind my eardrums, when I laid eyes on the bulk herb section at Wild Oats. I could hear my heart beat faster, my breath quicken, angels singing! Then, the dry scrape of a plastic scoop against tea leaves. The crunch of it against coriander seeds. The gentle rustling against chamomile, the soft give in the luscious rose hips.
11:30 am – Back in the car, with the rhythmic thudding of tires on road seams, the low thrumming of the engine, wind whistling as the car slices through the air, forcing it out of the way. The heavy thump of Spoon’s strong beat, moving me in the silence between the sounds. Listening to the music with my whole body, its rhythm pulsing through, moving my shoulders, my back, my hips.
Then a piercing screech from our daughter as she experiments with squealing. Our son shouting. Tires roaring. Engine humming. Wind whistling. Bass booming. Both kids shouting. Too many layers! I can’t listen to them all! Off goes the radio. I hear my voice yelling, “Quiet back there!” Silence in the back seat.
Now the soft, sweet murmur of children’s voices. A warm, white noise of engine drone, tire drone, wind drone.
11:45 am – Car doors slamming. Kid footsteps scratching on pavement. Plastic bags crinkling, jars clinking, trunk thudding closed. Gate creaking, then clanking shut. Jeans swishing, shoe soles shuffling on a tiled lanai floor. Key tumbling in the lock. Door swiffing open. Refrigerator humming. Clock ticking. Home.
I wrote this in 2008 when I spent five days doing a sensory awareness exercise. Each day I focused on one sense and wrote what I experienced. I didn’t mean for it to be a writing project – I was mainly interested in being aware of the world, and how we experience it through our senses. It turned out to be one of the most useful writing exercises I’ve ever done.