Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Blind Listening

I have participated in blind listening walks in the past. The last time I walked, about 8 years ago, I was pregnant with my first child. The walk took place in Chelsea, on the far west side of Manhattan. It was terrifying. It was really, really difficult to trust my partner and let one foot follow the other. I wanted to just stand still, or curl up in a ball for safety. I certainly didn't want to be blindfolded!

My Bennington walk, on the other hand, was an extraordinary treat! We started outside in the bitter cold and wind. At first I was reluctant, having left my coat inside, but my guide led me thoughtfully across different ground surfaces, around corners, in and out of light and shadow, all of which I could sense with my other, non-visual senses. The repeating pattern of gamelan music emanating from a ground floor classroom was an orienting motif that came in and out of my awareness as we walked. When we came inside the building, we sat for a few moments in the library. I felt so warm and comforted by the quite whispers and small sounds of that enclosed space.

At the close of the walk I felt calm, enlivened, and happy. It had been a 10 minute break - a short stretch of time where I was able to be led by someone, to be in someone else's care, relying on my senses (rather then my intellect) to know and experience the world. As the parent of an infant, I am constantly on the lookout - listening for cries, looking for signs of illness or danger, supervising in every way possible. So to be the 'baby' for a few minutes, just moving in the flow of sensory experience, was really pleasurable!

1 comment:

  1. I have no clue where to post anything on here but I thought I would try. I was a student at Bennington, decades ago. I was born in 1958.

    I arrived at Bennington as a transfer. Word got around. I played trumpet. I was one student that folks would often hire as copyist because my music handwriting was exceptionally good quality, and I was impeccable at transposing parts. I also had a decent ear, and I was blessed with the unusual gift of being able to take down music dictation on the spot. When I was growing up, I never realized that very few people could do this. I listened to my LP records, and wrote down the notes, in secret. Now, this skill isn't needed anymore, I hear, cuz computers can do it.

    As a student composer, I was a shining star. The faculty told me they were rather proud to have me as a student. It looked like I would go far. However, I decided, rather suddenly, to take time off and then come back. This was supposed to be my last semester. I told them I would postpone graduation and instead, graduate the next semester.

    I made some decisions during my "time off" and fell for people and institutions offering answers that were just plain wrong. Youth is a vulnerable time.

    When I tried to return to Benninton several times, I found that I simply couldn't due to rumors that had been spread about me that simply weren't true. After that faculty turnaround due to firing of full-time faculty and hiring of part-timers, the college seemed to have forgotten that I existed.

    All my music that I composed while at Bennington I have preserved and kept all these years. It is all hand written, mostly in #2 pencil or occasionally, ink. The box is right here in my home, where I live in a housing ghetto for the poor in a Boston suburb.

    The people from Bennington still call, asking for money, and I have no clue what to tell them. Sure, I can send $15, how will it be spent? Will it help unheard voices like mine be heard?

    It is my dream to come back to Bennington someday and speak, in hopes that I may share my experience. I do now have my master's degree in creative writing. I try to speak at colleges and I tell places I will speak for free. Young people come to me frequently, needing help. I listen, I reach out. I try to find the others who have experienced similar hardships. It is a blessing.

    Love, Julie Greene and her little dog, Puzzle