I’ve done a lot of camping in my life. As a young man I discovered that I really enjoyed listening to the birds sing in the morning while I was camping. The sun comes up about 5:00 or 5:30 here in the summer, and around that same time birds begin their singing. Sometimes it seems as if there are hundreds of birds singing!
Not too long ago, maybe within the last three years, I noticed that there weren’t many birds singing anymore. I wondered, at the time, if it was an effect of climate change. Whatever the cause, I was sad that they were gone.
This summer one of the most amazing things has happened. The birds are back in full force! I was completely amazed to discover one morning, immediately after I put my hearing aids in place, that the air was full of their lovely songs! When the audiologist had showed me the profile of my hearing loss she explained that it was almost entirely within the upper frequencies. What she didn’t mention is that these are the very frequencies that the birds use. Maybe she didn’t know this. I certainly didn’t know this until that morning. Every morning since that day I’ve been paying close attention to the birds – before and after putting the hearing aids in place. Morning after morning, there is nearly silence before, and the birds begin singing at the tops of their lungs as soon as I put the hearing aids in place. Who knew?
This illustrates one of the hardest and most important lessons in life: we almost always don’t realize what we don’t know. We don’t just walk around in ignorance about a given topic; instead, we think our knowledge of that topic is complete and correct. Wouldn’t it be something if we could have a little internal gauge that we could consult to get a reading on just how complete our knowledge of a topic really is? I could have looked at it and found that the problem with the birdsongs wasn’t the birds being gone or silent. That would have helped me realize that I should visit an audiologist.
I guess in the absence of ignorance meters humility will have to get the job done.