Some months ago, I went on a trip with my family that involved flying for over ten hours at a stretch. Besides the fact that the flight was long, it was uneventful. Since it was already late by the time the disembarked, we spent the night in that city.
Early the next morning, we had to take a flight out to get another city, where we took yet another flight to our final destination. Exhausted, I fell asleep almost immediately we boarded the last plane but was awakened, after a while, by sharp pain in my ears. This wasn’t the usual strange sensation I get sometimes in my ears in airplanes and which cleared up with ear-pops when I swallowed or yawned.
This felt more like there was intense pressure in ears that were blocked and that hurt a lot. As if the pain wasn’t enough, my hearing started to go gradually. That was very scary. Initially, I could hear muted sounds of people chatting in the airplane but even that gradually faded till I could barely hear a thing.
My daughter was seated between the Mister and I, so I leaned over her and tapped him awake. I could see his lips move as he spoke to me; but, I didn’t hear a word of what he said.
To avoid speaking a lot louder than was necessary, because I couldn’t hear myself, I was careful to keep my voice low as I told him what I was experiencing.
He started speaking to me but it was only when I concentrated long enough to read his lips that I realized that he was telling me to swallow so that my ears could pop.
I told him that I had done that a lot already but that it hadn’t worked. I could see him try to reassure me that it would pass but I was really upset because that had never happened to me before and I couldn’t imagine a world of absolute silence.
I turned away from him to the window and soon felt tears spring to my eyes as I thought of never hearing my children ever again.
After a while, my ear popped and some of that stuffiness eased. Also, some sound started filtering through my ears and I was so thrilled even though it wasn’t a lot. A couple, seated behind us, was chatting away and it became very important for me to hear what they were saying. I bet they were talking quite audibly; but, to me, it was as if they were whispering to each other as one told the other about some place he had been to.
I felt like I was eavesdropping but I didn’t care because I needed to soak up as much sound as I could. Once in a while, during announcements, some of what was being said filtered through, albeit in very low tones.
Anyway, as soon as we landed, my ears started popping painfully but with each pop, I could hear a little better. While we were waiting to be picked from the airport, my hearing kept improving. By the time we got to place we called home for almost four weeks, I was as good as new and very thrilled that I wasn’t going deaf, after all!
I had thought during the flight that we were flying a lot lower than I was used to because I could see the ground from the time I woke up till we eventually landed. Maybe that particular altitude had something to do with it because I recently found out that for sufferers of Barotrauma / airplane ear, the pain is worse when an aircraft drops from a height and just before the plane lands. I have also found out that while sleeping in an aircraft, during such circumstances, pressure builds up in the ear as there’s neither swallowing nor yawning to let air into the ears and make them pop. Anyway, that is the science of it.
I had known during the flight that I was going through all of that because of unequal pressure between my middle ear and the cabin of the airplane. However, that had never happened to me before and I had not been sure about how it was going to end. So, I hadn’t known how to deal with it. My ears had hurt a lot and in my panic, I had thought of all that could go wrong.
In my heart, through that panic, I had heard very clearly to stay calm and I had been assured that I would be fine. But, I hadn’t listened. A few tears had even found their way out of the corners of my eyes as I tried to imagine a world without sound.
There is always some sort of pressure in every one’s life. So many times, it usually is more than we think we can handle, because a lot of that pressure causes intense pain. Sometimes too, we hear that Voice telling us to be still and to trust that all will be well. A lot of the times, when that happens, we allow our feelings and the knowledge that all is NOT alright, drown out that comfort.
Just like I forced my ears to listen in on a conversation that had nothing to do with me, just so I could grasp at straws and not panic so much, so we all are wont to do once in a while.
Without a doubt, I know what I heard in my heart but I wanted a physical reassurance that did absolutely nothing to make my hearing better or relieve the pressure in my ears.
I had to go through the entire experience to find out what the end of the matter was. By then, I realized that, just like I had been told, I could have just closed my eyes and tried to sleep through the pain.
It just struck me now that I didn’t trust enough, regardless of the fact that I had very clearly heard, with ears that are found only in the heart.
All of us, at one time or the other, have heard from the only One who knows it all. A lot of the time, we choose to be deaf to that Voice by disregarding what we have heard, even when we know that we do not know all there is to know about a particular situation.
It is not only pressure, pain and fear that cause us to be deaf to His word to and for us. Sometimes, we are deaf, as a result of sheer stubbornness, just as I was sometime ago.
About opening a can of Coke, one morning, I heard in my heart, “Do healthy.”
In a heartbeat, I rolled my ears and retorted in my heart, I’m not doing.
Then, I went ahead and opened the can of Coke. As soon as I took the first sip, I burst into laughter as I realized how childishly rebellious I had been. I don’t take soft drinks very often and certainly not in the morning. I had also had some unhealthy snacks the previous day, in lieu of a proper meal, so I did need to eat better that day.
Anyway, I immediately told the Mister and we had a good laugh when I described how I had rolled my eyes. I didn’t drink any more of the Coke after that because I suddenly realized that I no longer felt the need to.
Thinking about it later, I realized that I had deliberately chosen to go deaf even though I had heard wise counsel. There was no pressure from anyone to have that drink. It was all about me exercising that God-given freedom of choice… even when I knew it wasn’t the best I could do at the time.
Regardless of what any burden that we bear is, we should train our ears to listen to the only One who can proffer a solution.
When we are in need of admonishment, we should not allow our guilt or stubbornness drown out the Voice which chastises, yet comforts.
Even when what the world says is different from what our hope and assurance is, we should hold firm to what we know to be the truth, no matter what the majority says.
The economy may well have taken a nose dive and jobs may not be secure but are you certain that it is also your story?
Has He told you that?
Or are you eavesdropping on conversations that have nothing to do with you?
Even when our senses say that we can’t, if we have heard from Him who does not lie, that we can, then we can!
After all, a blind man with a guide dog or just a cane, even, finds his bearings. It may not be as easy as it could have been if he were not blind but, hey, he’s going where he has to, alright… slowly but surely.
When we can make a difference and effect change in a positive manner, even when the only voice we hear, cheering us on, is the Voice that only our hearts can hear, let us be bold to stand up and be the difference.
When in the midst of gloom we suddenly hear beautiful music that we know is nothing short of a miracle, let’s dance our hearts out even when no one else hears that music.
Will they think you’re mad? Maybe.
But are you? :)
On our way home after that holiday, we had to go back the way we came. That meant being in two airplanes that, again, flew lower than I was used to.
My ears felt blocked, I felt the pressure, I felt the pain, not just in my ears but at the back of my head, and though my hearing didn’t go entirely this time, it wasn’t perfect.
But, this time, there was no panic at all. I slept almost throughout the second domestic flight and before we landed, my ears had popped and I was alright.
On the over-ten-hour flight home, I was as good as new… just as I had been assured.