Listening Vessels, Houston

The sounds of a city can stun a person upon first contact. Well before they become commonplace and mundane the diverse and unique expressions of a metropolitan area pierce us. It’s more than the horns of traffic, the radio shuffle of a commute or the clutter of industrial air conditioners whirring that stir inside us.

Which is why, the concept of an area to have a private conversation at no louder than a common volume which still transcends the engulfing symphony of city life astonishes me.

Yet, the Listening Vessels installment in Discovery Green proves that the astonishing is possible. Situated in a small courtyard area close to Avenida Houston, the two piece circular resting spot allows two people to face one another, nearly 20 yards apart to converse in perfect clarity without the need to shout. It’s an anomaly that speaks to science, architecture and design. It is as close as I can imagine a secret garden being in the middle of Houston.

I have spent a great deal of my life listening. Sometimes to the burdens that others carry. Sometimes to answers that are hidden in the wind. Sometimes to a soundtrack blared loudly from the speakers of my car. To be fair, I have had my own list of burdens to share over the years as well. But, as I get older, the more I try to better understand the world around me through quieting myself to hear that around me.

I recently have been intrigued by snapchat stories, specifically content from medical professionals who are performing extractions of some kind. It honestly is just gross enough that I want to swear it off after watching a few, but captivating enough that I can’t look away. These can be pimple popping, ingrown hair pulls and/or ear cleanings. It’s horrid and at times very vile, but attention drawing.

About a decade ago, I went to the doctor with hearing loss (some of which I still deal with on my left side). They advised that I had wax buildup that might be a contributing factor. The nurses performed about 2 rounds of irrigation to my ears, ultimately providing some relief, though I have still yet to regain all of my abilities. They had some recommendations, but ultimately admitted defeat for what the warm water would do in that time and place. I proceeded to attempt every OTC remedy after the procedure I could find that might help. I could have been a content creator looking at the things that were drummed up, but alas I didn’t want to further injure myself.

Cut to a couple of weeks ago, I found an ear wax removal video on social media and I started to look at the professional service being offered near me. What I found didn’t disappoint; a very professional medical company near my house doesn’t accept insurance, but will bill $120 to clean your ears with a device that they call an “Earigator” (I can’t make this double entendre up). They are booked two months solid out at this point. I am still working out if this is all absurd or if I should add this as a possible Holiday gift idea. Maybe I’ll let you know as we get closer to Christmas.

The track this week is “Little Talks” by Icelandic group “Of Monsters And Men”. The track is from their self titled debut that possesses some really solid follow up singles. I was fortunate to see the group about the same time frame I was irrigating my own ears, but with the benefit of sweet melodies and rhythmic percussion. I felt like including it this week because I just imagine the conversations that the Listening Vessels installment has captured. The focused and purposeful alignments that extract the most of us above the fray of the sounds of busy city life.

Until we meet again soon, let’s take care of one another, y’all.

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