Alone and Connected
Sometimes the combination of being a minimalist, a writer, and deaf feels like a solitary path; my connection with the world outside of my immediate family and my house often feels tenuous, abstract, even a little surreal. A conversation with a sales clerk at the grocery store almost qualifies as an “event.” Running into people I know is practically a festival.
Lost in Translation
Then the inbox will turn up a personal email, like a recent one from a friend who relocated from here to Hawaii. Donna reports that she misses the crispness of fall in Indiana and the way the changing of seasons marks time. On the other hand, gardening year ’round is an appealing prospect, despite lackluster results from her first attempts with tomatoes and eggplants.
When Donna (waving hi to Donna) moved to Hawaii, she left just about everything behind and is sort of seeing just how few things she needs in order to live simply and beautifully:
I’m still enjoying my tiny little studio apartment and minimalist lifestyle. I have only a hotplate and microwave in my kitchen and continue to resist the idea of adding a toaster oven. I am contemplating a propane grill for my lanai though. Last weekend I nearly doubled my living space by covering half of my lanai with a canopy and putting a table and chairs under it. I now have a dining room/home office! (never mind that the view is of struggling tomatoes and eggplants)
A friend from Merrillville, Christina, visited me here and fell in love with the minimalist lifestyle. She moved into a smaller apartment and has been releasing debt and living a fuller life. We laugh about the fact that reducing cosmetics and toiletries is such a huge struggle. It was really eye-opening for me to realize that I had several bins of soaps, lotions, tonics and various beauty accessories to unload when I moved.
She went on to say that Christina reads this blog, too (waving hi to Christina), and it was really nice to know that somebody in the next town over is a reader and making strides in the minimalism department. Maybe going against the traditional consumerist grain feels a bit like being the only Muslim or Jewish kid in a Catholic school at Christmastime, or maybe it’s not that bad, but it can be isolating. No Black Friday for our lot–bring on a day of reading or meditation or some other indulgence instead!
I love getting comments and emails from all of you, and the way they give me (and hopefully you) the sense that many individual minimalist paths can still make a collective. We’re not alone.
On the deaf/hearing side of things, it’s been an interesting few days. Okay, that’s an understatement, it’s been mind-blowing. It was time to replace my hearing aids (they last for 5-7 years), and I tried out a model that is not only digital, but does things with speech-level sound that I cannot explain very well, other than to say I can now be in a crowded restaurant or watching the battle scenes in a sci-fi movie and still hear Steve’s voice. It isn’t louder, it’s more, well, layered. And the devices and peripherals are equipped with Bluetooth, so they can double as headphones when I need a fix of Chopin and Beethoven. Even though I’ve lost even more hearing thanks to a few years on Plaquenil (how does one who is already profoundly deaf become more deaf if there isn’t a word more profound than profound? Okay, let’s go with deaf as a doorpost), the sensation with the new and improved technology isn’t louder or more intense, it’s more selective. It works with my deafness instead of hammering it. The resulting sensation inside of my head is like slipping into a nice warm bath after a hard day of overhauling the garden: my brain just goes “ahhhhhh.” Steve notes that I look a whole lot less stressed now. No wonder.
Just got off the “phone” with my son. The Apple application called FaceTime is a miracle. No relay, no captions, no signing. Just me and my kid seeing each other and talking, him hearing me and me lipreading him, thanks to the incredibly sharp picture quality of the iPod. I “called” Steve from Barnes and Noble the other day, too. I can’t begin to explain what it’s like to actually communicate over distance in real time like that when you haven’t been able to for fifty years.
The iPod is part of my new arsenal (the monthly fees for iPhone service were too much to handle but it would have done the job just as well) of making the most of what’s left of my hearing and staying current with things. My audiologist helped me to set it up to work with the new hearing aids, and the christening was a Pink Floyd mp3. I was overcome, and just cried and cried. Ninety percent of the tears was happiness, and ten percent was sadness, because a lot of range has been lost. But now I spend a little time each day looking for music to download, mostly for things I know well from 20-30-40 years ago, because my brain can fill in the sound gaps that I no longer actually hear, even with extreme and precise amplification. Following along with sheet music helps, too.
It’s going to take a while to get used to everything, to learn how to use all this new technology. For instance, I had the camera pointing the wrong way during half my call to my son, but we got it sorted out. Things like that. I already feel a lot less isolated.