The Wonders of Preparations
Updated: Jun 15, 2019
As a part of preparing the material for the first trial workshops and soundwalks with fourth graders in the school on Fanø, I take regular walks myself, where I am trying to abandon all expectations of what I am going to hear or perceive. It proves to be more difficult as one might think, since I very well know my way around the village and the small forest bordering it. It requires an act of dedication to stay open, aware and curious. It’s easy to stumble along the path, eyes just in front of your feet, with my thoughts jumping through my to-do-list or pondering on what I shall have for diner tonight. Usually it helps me to keep my eyes straight ahead, renewing my peripheral vision every so often in order to help my ears open up to a global focus, but I found that maybe the best trick of all to stay alert is to slow down my steps. It works every single time.
Pauline Oliveros, composer and the founder of the Deep Listening Institute, actually uses extreme slow walking in her listening workshops as an excercise for the participants to “learn to reconnect with very subtle energies in the body as the weight shifts from side to side” and to discover “the merging into the experience of flow”. Very simple and very effective, I will definitely try it with my groups as well.
It is funny how I sometimes deceive myself into thinking that I don’t have any expectations and only, when I am disappointed or frustrated, I am beginning to realise all my pre-conceived notions about how I think things are supposed to be. And this is the exact moment, when I am able to let go of them, maybe feeling a bit defeated by seeing my expectations shattered, that I am ready to really let the world come in, because now there is nothing to lose anymore.
This morning I was just ready to turn my back to the forest, since I felt I couldn’t escape my stream of all-so-important commentary anyway, when suddenly I heard this long croaking call from the canopies above. I remembered what an ornithologist told me abut the new dark arrivals in the area and I was spellbound. My whole body was alert, but my mind was calm at the same time. I turned around, renewed my footing in the soft moss and waited, eyes closed. With every call I heard, I stole myself closer to the tree, where I thought the sound came from. The long calls almost seemed beckoning to me, so soft and low. But, alas, the bird in hiding must have heard me approaching, before I could get a closer look at it and it took of - a beautiful silky black raven.
When I watched it flying in circles over the fields nearby, I wondered if I maybe didn’t scare it away after all, since it was having such a great time tumbling through the air, letting itself fall, playing in the wind, as if it wanted to do that even if I hadn’t come. It was great sight and I felt very lucky. On my way back home I heard it circling over me in the forest again - or maybe it was a different one - this time with a different shorter sound. I have no idea, what and to whom the raven was communicating but at least it didn’t sound distressed. I really hope to hear and see it (them) soon again - but hey, no expectations, right?