Monday, April 16, 2012


For those of us who work hard all year long, going on vacation is something to look forward too. Trips to a southern climate while looking at a snow packed driveway, or wading in a cool mountain stream with a fishing pole when looking at the end of a drought seem to be very welcomed thoughts, except for a true audiophile.

Even though trekking in the Himalayas is a great thing to do and an experience almost no one would pass up, an audiophile thinks about his/her system and what that rock you just dislodged that is now rolling down the cliff could sound like when played back through it. Out minds are not made from the same stuff that most everyone else's is.

The "blessing of the golden ear" is also truly a curse. You find yourself much like a photophile (I just made that up) who looks at life through a lens; audiophiles often listen at life through a speaker. My wife was a photophile for decades, so I know this to be true from first-hand experience. We loved cross country skiing and she would haul her Nikon gear (all 30 pounds of it) in a special backpack everywhere we went. Of course she took some amazing pictures, one of which I recall clearly.

In the outback of Colorado, you learn quickly to pass through avalanche chutes one person at a time and to do so quietly. the views from the chute are spectacular, but lingering there is risky since one can never know for sure when the mountain could come sliding down on top of you. One day, very close to the tree line (about 12,000 feet at this trail), we came across such a chute. Whispering out the plan at the edge of the trees, I went first and she would follow. This particular chute was a doozy; about a hundred yards across.

Skiing to the opposite side, I broke the trail over the top of its ridge so that it would be easier for her to follow with all of that camera gear and waited, and waited, and waited. Shouting was not an option since such sounds could dislodge the snow shelf looming precariously uphill. Finally she appeared with a big grin on her face. "What happened?" I asked glad to see her safely across. "Oh I paused to take a picture." The result was this.

I can relate to what her eyes saw while willingly standing in the middle of such a dangerous place. There was that moment when life's beauty is so awe inspiring, the attempt to preserve it, to lock it into one's mind forever, overcomes everything else, even one's safety..

On your next vacation, remember that your mind is tuned to listen. When hearing something spectacular, take pause. Listen with this same intensity at the natural sounds you hear all around you, bring those sounds back with you locked into your acoustic memory, and you will find a new appreciation for the blessing of your golden ears.

Yours for higher fidelity,
Philip Rastocny

I do not use ads in this blog to help support my efforts. If you like what you are reading, please remember to reciprocate, My newest title is called Where, oh Where did the Star of Bethlehem Go? It’s an astronomer’s look at what this celestial object may have been, who the "Wise Men" were, and where they came from. Written in an investigative journalism style, it targets one star that has never been considered before and builds a solid case for its candidacy.

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