I first started suffering from tinnitus about seven years ago. I’ve learned how to live with it, mostly. It usually affects me the most when I’m in a very silent environment, like somewhere in the wilderness.
Gordon Hempton is someone who knows all about very quiet places and so I thought he might have some insight into how I might learn to listen to them again despite my tinnitus. He’s a Grammy-award winning sound recordist and acoustic ecologist based in Port Angeles, WA, and he’s also the founder and caretaker of One Square Inch of silence in Washington’s Olympic National Park – the quietest place in the USA.
When we spoke, he said some very interesting things about how society is sort of suffering from a collective temporary hearing loss – and how he believes that learning how to listen again could help us take better care of the planet we live on. I mixed his words from that conversation together with some of my recordings of human and environmental sounds to create this short radio piece.
This piece originally ran on CBC Radio’s excellent 2010 summer series The Bottom Line with David Suzuki.