Recently Little Miss celebrated her third birthday. A party was held, plenty of festive notions, and now she stands alongside her older cousin, far away from Miss Em who at five and a half months is a happy, grabby, drooly infant. I have been in full grandma-mode lately, but even while cuddling nietos and enjoying family, ponderings of an audible nature have continued.
A couple of weeks ago I learned about Life Echo, a project that connects sounds to memory. I don’t mean songs, but everyday noises which hearken to moments within our lives; from chirping birds to rollicking waves to clanking vehicles, sounds are harnessed to map out a person’s past. Clients fill out questionnaires and those at Life Echo interpret the data, fashioning a memory soundtrack. Investigating the website, I felt as if entering a new world, in part that when I think of sound, music emerges as the main element. But there was also a newfound appreciation for the audible world surrounding me; from planes flying overhead and children’s laughter to basketball announcers and my fingers on a keyboard. Our lives are bordered and buffered by sound, and how much of it do we tune out as irritating or unnecessary?
Yet what if our existences were stripped of noise? I’ve been mulling over how that element could figure into my next novel. I’ve also paid closer attention to the ticking clock here in my writing room, considered how the floor creaks near the big quilt wall. I’m cognizant of the dishwasher’s faint hum, how the light rail’s doors open as if in a vacuum. Being aware of background sounds has become a new hobby, not that I need more to do; this is so easy, maybe a little distracting, but in a good way. It’s a renewed manner of observation, and I am so grateful for the reminder. Our memories aren’t merely that of faces and events, but an auditory sense that isn’t music. Another kind of melody wafts through our days, adhering to the gray matter, then poking us when again those sounds are realized. Sometimes the pricks are gentle, sometimes a bit sharp. Life Echo brings to the forefront those which lift the heart, heal a wound, rouse a smile. Thanks to Justin for sharing this amazing project!