Have you ever just stopped and listened — really listened, I mean? Yes, of course you have! Because you’re Displaced Nation readers, which automatically means you’re closely in touch with all five senses. After all, that’s what travel is all about!
But just in case those ears of yours have been missing some vital input — of the kind that would help you to appreciate life’s sweetness — let’s do an exercise in aural comprehension and memory.
Yes, it’s time to pay some attention to those great big flappy things on the sides of your head — you know, the ones that help cartoon elephants to fly? Yes, friends (Romans and countrymen), I’m asking you to lend me your ears. Don’t worry — I’ll give them back. And, by the time I do, you will understand why there’s a photo of wet grapes on this page!
Today, in the service of living a fuller Dolce Vita, our question is: What is the dreamiest, most beautiful sound you’ve heard in the course of your travels?
Beauty in serendipity
Now, because La Dolce Vita is all about finding beauty in unexpected things, I won’t wax lyrical about waves lapping on foreign shores, morning birdsong in uninhabited fields, or other somewhat clichéd ideas of a “dreamy sounds.”
True, it was incredibly sweet to hear my girlfriend say “yes” when I asked her to marry me; I’m sure the same is true for everyone who’s been through this stage in their life. In fact, I hardly heard her at all because she was crying so much. (I was crying too as it happens, but that was because I was kneeling in an ants’ nest at the time and Australian ants really hurt when they bite! Damn them!)
Now, I’m the sort of person who takes great delight in discovering life’s hidden treasures in the moments you’d least expect them. And I take even greater delight in pointing them out to everyone else, which apparently is one of the most annoying qualities a person can have. Especially if you’re having a bad day.
So, what’s the most delightful sound you’ve heard recently? Is it some gentle-voiced stranger, mentioning how bright and sunny the day is, even though the train is making you horribly late for work? Or is it the sound of someone telling that well-spring of positivity to shut the f@&8 up and p*$$ off?!
I apologize in advance for being that guy. I should try to keep my happy-happy joy-joy observations to myself more often!
But in terms of the most wondrous sounds I have come across, I’ve decided not to opt for the obvious — the soft harp music at my wedding in England; the sound my footstep makes in deep, fresh snow at 10,000 feet; or the poignant jingling of a Spanish music box, dearly remembered from my childhood, which I inherited from my granddad when he passed last month.
Instead I’ll go for the unexpected: the sound of rain on my tent.
Raindrops are falling on my tent!
After three months of living under canvas, doing agricultural work in the hope of extending my Australian Working Holiday visa, hearing that particular sound would fill my entire being with joy. Why did it have such an effect on me, you may ask? Was I looking forward to soggy clothes on the washing line or to a cold, wet sprint to the block of toilets? No, even a cheerful person like me isn’t that much of a glutton for punishment.
For me, the sound of raindrops simply meant…FREEDOM!
Because as any budding grape-picker knows, you can’t pick ‘em when they’re wet — so any downpour of sufficient strength to wake me meant a day off work, for sure! No hours of bending over in the scorching summer sun; no cuts and prickles of delicate fingertips; no hauling of endless buckets, boredom, drudgery and indelible purple juice on everything. (Trust me, there are parts of you that just shouldn’t be purple — ever.)
Most of all it meant 6:00 a.m. was not the time to be wriggling out of bed, out of a nice warm sleeping bag into the miserable grey dawn — and into a set of filthy work clothes. No! 6:00 a.m., when the rain fell, rattling the flysheet and threatening to overwhelm its scant moisture resistance, meant only one thing: time to go back to sleep.
For me, that hard, driving rain was the world’s most blissful lullaby!
So there you have it. No magnificent concertos, no first cries of your first-born baby — even though no one will dispute the loveliness of those sounds.
My challenge to you today is to think of a sound that holds an interesting story about your travels abroad. What’s a sound that struck you as the dreamiest and most beautiful, but that’s unique to your own wanderings?
Let me know in the comments! And if you have a photo that accompanies that sound, send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. As mentioned in last week’s post, I hope to be staging a “la dolce vita slideshow” before too long!
STAY TUNED for Monday’s post — a contrarian view of La Dolce Vita by none other than Anthony Windram!
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Img: Grapes in the rain, courtesy of Rachel Kramer, October 2009.