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  • PERSPECTIVE : The Ringing

         I woke up to a ringing in my ear one Maryland morning. I'd been hobo-ing for years, not for excitement, but for reasons that only other hobos understand. I'd been talking on the phone for days on end and drinking wine incessantly with each sundown. Neither of these things were born of any dependency. The talking was for pleasure and the wine for amusement. I suppose the ringing was a reminder that both of these things stood in firm opposition to what I had been called to do. If I was not to make music with my gift, a single tone would badger me in my own head, unbeknownst to the world outside it.

         Each morning, I would arise hoping that the ringing would be gone, that I could once again indulge my pleasure of wine and conversation. The ringing did not wane nor did it grow stronger. It remained steady. There was pressure inside my head. There is pressure now as I write about these events that passed a week ago. I don't know if the pressure or the ringing will cease. But, I do not write this in hopes of their dismissal. Rather, I am grateful for its consistence, which inspires me to act with that same consistence, which reminds me that wine and conversation pass the time but offer no decoration of it.

         If this never-ending bell summons me to my desk, draws the pen to my hand, why does it do so? I suppose I do have something to report. But, I am not foolish enough to believe that my notes are of any particular importance. Surely, although my experiences may be fascinating, it is only through the hours of eating the words of others that I have anything to report at all. Among these others, in recent years, Paul Laurence Dunbar's words have been my main prey. The Pauls inspire me to no end, Dunbar being one half, the side that writes and wears the diplomatic robes of ceremony, the other side being Robeson, the singing, jumping, fighting half. I've taken it upon myself to call this idea 'The Consciousness of the Pauls.”

         But, that is beside the point of this writing, which is certainly the ringing, the incessant ringing. When I would step outside into the city, it would be masked by the surrounding noise. Every puddle of rainwater disturbed by every tire would grab my focus, as it mixed with the scurrying of various little animals. It was only the stirring of outside life that could smother the never-ending bell that rang just barely inside of my ear. It was as if the ringing was trying to escape, as if it was constantly coming so close to setting itself free, as if it could hear the possibilities in the outside world that were only vaguely apparent between those four walls.

         Standing outside in the peace of the noise, I answered a question that I asked myself pertaining to the relationship between sounds and words, surely not the most original question, but nonetheless, a question that cultivates a frustration that demands release. For, our bodies go through these inane cycles of collection and release on their very own, as do the ever-expanding outer limits. It seems quite reasonable to try and harness these cycles oneself, and these attempts comprise the practice of organizing sounds and/or words. It is not merely a therapeutic or romantic endeavor, but one of heavenly necessity. This no one would protest, except for the jester in their jest.