Ears and Fears

Todd has been a sounds guy all his life.

Yes, I know it should be “sound guy,” but I wrote it that way because he’s been in a band, released some CDs (as 404 Not Found), done production sound on some movies, and done post-production sound. He owns a whisper room (I wonder what percentage of the population owns a whisper room?)

But his ears don’t work right.


For many years I have been a witness to what’s been going on inside his ear canals. I haven’t been a very good witness because one person can’t hear what’s going on inside another person’s head. And I haven’t been a very good witness, sometimes, because of a lack of sympathy.

One time we were sitting in the living room, talking. He didn’t respond the way I wanted to something I said, so I told him, “Clean out your ears!” He started to cry.

I’ve felt guilty about that for years.

This post was inspired by Rita’s post on reflex sympathy dystrophy (RSD). It sounds like a horrible disease. As I read it, I wondered what I would do if I got such a painful, incurable health problem. But I didn’t really believe I ever would–we’re all immortal, right? So I focused instead on what I would do if my partner got something similar. Would I be able to stick with it? How often would I think about escaping, about how this person was holding me back? How often would I beat myself up about being more patient, kinder, more giving?

I think my relationship with Todd has answered that question for me. I would probably fail all the time to live up to the standards I want to meet.

Over the years, I’ve found it useless to try to turn off the embarrassing, catty, selfish, or otherwise less-than-perfect voices in our heads. There’s really only one thing that works–focusing on someone else.

So here’s to you, Rita, who’s managed to keep going, even get a book deal. And to Todd, who may have found a cure after 13 years of tests.