Yesterday, I jumped into the shower (well, at my age, I stepped precariously) and I realized once I added shampoo to my hair, that I was still wearing my hearing aids. No wonder the shower had a wonderful waterfall sound. I quickly removed them while suds started gliding down my face, and groped for the towel. I dabbed them dry and placed them gently on the counter. The rest of my routine went as usual with no mishaps as I hurried to get back to my delicate pieces of technological miracles to see if they still functioned. I believe they are still performing well, even though my auditory skills are functioning at sixty- five percent of normal. Without my aids, some people sound like they are talking under water, so adding more water into the situation is not advisable. My hearing impairment is sometimes the source of merriment in my family. When it sounds like they are asking crazy questions, I repeat what I think I have heard. “Do you want to stay there?”, says my hubby, but it sounds more like, ” Do you want Fay’s hair?”. Fay is my lovely next door neighbor, so that one is more logical than some of the other gibberish I hear. I often nod my head when listening to a group and can’t grasp every word. My children see this and ask if am in my happy place. Quiet places are happy places. Nothing is more confounding than a room where several people speak at once. Can anyone hear two people talk at once and understand both of them? Sounds like a fun experiment to try at the next dinner party. What I have learned from having a disability is how insensitive we are to others who are not able to do the things we can do. It is not just physical limitations, but cognitive ability that alters the way we perceive others. We may respond by teasing, excluding, or ignoring others because they don’t fit in or they make us uncomfortable. How can we do better in a world which is so diverse? A good start is listening to our heart in order to recognize the situations that throw us off our center. When we hear negativity, we must intentionally substitute something positive. When we hear things that are hurtful, we must recognize the lies and substitute the truth. When an inner voice says, “This person is so different from me”, we should celebrate the opportunity to experience something new. If we go beyond our comfort zone we may be surprised by a refreshing new relationship. Hearing is helpful but listening is even more important. Sometimes, I seem snobbish when people call out to me and I ignore them. The reason is that I truly did not hear. “Forgive us as we forgive others,” dear Lord. Open my heart, and open my ears even when they are wet and soggy; so that I may know how to include those who have been excluded, teased, or ignored and are waiting patiently to be a part of the community. Yes, my hearing aids are on!