Simple Pleasures in Sounds

Last month I wrote about enjoying small, simple pleasures in life, like the warmth from a good cup of coffee. I’d originally planned to write about gratitude this month, in line with the US Thanksgiving holiday, but the other week as I explored a new-to-me city, I heard church bells tolling. It’s a sound that in that moment, I realized I loved, though I don’t hear it often (or ever) when at home. And then I thought to combine these themes: sounds that may be seemingly so simple or common, but that can bring pleasure when listening to them.

I am incredibly grateful that I can hear, catching small tidbits of news in the background to focus on or hearing languages and nuance when words are spoken around me. When thinking of sounds, of course, one of the first things that come to my mind is music. And I love music – turning up a good song or carefully curating a road trip playlist. I catch myself recognizing the beautiful harmony when everyone breathes together in a yoga class. Breath seems like such a simple thing – we do it without even thinking about it – but yet it’s so incredibly vital.

And then there was that fssh sound of the breathe exhaled by killer whales in the San Juan Islands. I didn’t even think I’d look forward to the next surfacing to hear that again (but I did). I wanted to see them again, of course, but that was an added bonus, that woosh of air coming one after another as the pod swam through the Salish Sea, a plume of water droplets shooting up into the sky with tiny rainbows mixing within. It was a moment indicative of these powerful animals and the incredible adaptability of mammals living beneath the waves. It was a reminder with each exhale of the beauty, intelligence, and power of nature.

So the church bells. I haven’t thought about the sound of church bells ringing in some time until I heard them periodically with this last trip to Mexico. There were several churches in the neighborhood plazas we walked through and that gentle, clanging that didn’t ring regularly enough for the time, so maybe calling people together for mass or for some sort of celebration/news. They may have been an invitation to that calm, serene space inside. As we passed, we peeked inside to a few of these churches that definitely had an “Old World” feel (they don’t build churches like they used to!): soaring ceilings, thick stone walls, beautiful stained glass windows – and those rolling bells.

I could keep writing – and certainly I did in my notes for this post. There are so many wonderful sounds that I love stopping to notice and listen: wind rustling through trees, water lapping on a lake’s shore, a cat’s purr and laughter emanating from a group of friends. As with so many things, once I started to notice those sounds and sit with them, it’s a reminder to be grateful for that ability and to listen out for more things to enjoy.


Patricia returned to Texas after spending several years on both coasts. She's a writer, amateur photographer and traveler.

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