The founder of the Bay Area's annual gathering of Deaf dancers, Antoine Hunter and choreographers from around the world say you don't need to hear music in order to be able to move to it. May this inspiring video help us reflect on the inner worlds of the differently abled.
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"I have a lot to say. I have a lot to share. I don't want to be in a place where I can't express myself. I want to share the truth."
Bhavana Pankaj shares her reflections on this video:
Beethoven was deaf and Homer was blind, but these characteristics did not hinder their names from remaining in the honour ranks of light-imparting culture. True blindness and deafness are caused by ignorance.
I am wondering, though, if deafness relates only to the hearing of sound as the majority of us do. What if he and the tree are hearing something you and I don’t, or can’t, hear? What if they are ‘hearing-impaired’ as per a certain notion held by a majority in a certain time and space? What if they do not hear according to the accepted definition of sound and its perceiving equipment?
I turn to Wikipedia. Of the answers, this one is most interesting. “Is sound only sound if a person hears it? The definition of sound, simplified, is hearable noise. But the tree will make a sound, even if nobody heard it… So the tree could have been heard, though nobody was around to do so…”
There is a possibility, then, of what a metaphysicist speaks of as unperceived sound… unperceived by you and I. Isn’t it possible also that he and the tree may have chosen in unknown ways to not hear the mundane sounds of this world? And turn their ear, instead, to a different drummer? And, the ‘trade-off’ was deafness in this world for the hearing in the other?
I am reminded of Henry David Thoreau. He said, “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.”
The tree seems to hear a different drummer. For is it possible for it to not hear its roots as they send their buckets down in the wells of the earth to draw water from? Does it not listen in to the songs of gratitude they sing as they pass their full pitchers one root to the next, through the trunk? The sap courses up, flowing and filling stems and branches. As they burst into a melody of flowers and fruits, does the tree not sway in joy as the wind blows its flute through the leaves? And does it not hear the bee to make a gift of its pollen, and the bird when she asks for shelter under it and sings for the tree when its turn?
The deaf man, perhaps, hears a different drummer too. As he throws his roots down in the soil of sound, he spreads them proudly, strongly in the forest of deafness, binding and drawing close trees like himself. The deafness in his DNA surges feet up, filling his heart where the unstruck sound is ready to burst into dance.