The sound a vacuum cleaner makes on a clear, cool morning is no different from the noise escaping its disquieting form on cloudy days. But it seems different. The cacophony of vacuum cleaners has no legitimate place on cool, clear mornings. Their presence only sullies the sweet skies with surly, satanic sounds. Bright winter mornings deserve clean, sparkling sounds, gentle commotions like wind chimes or the chatter of ice packs cracking in the sunlight. The sound of hooves on a cobblestone street is another acceptable sound for clear, cool, winter mornings. If I had a sound file of such music, I would play it now. It would take me back to a time before I existed, a time when the air was pure and maple syrup was a rare treat, enjoyed only on mornings that commanded the presence of bacon and pancakes. That simple sound would fill me with memories of drinking buttermilk; and coffee strong enough to break the stoneware mug attempting to contain it. Sounds are like smells; they dredge memories from beneath layer upon layer of sticky experience, exposing them to the present, as if making yesterday into today. If we allow ourselves to examine our negative experiences—no matter how shallow or deep—with some intensity, we find that dwelling on the underbelly of life exposes us to its opposite, through recollection and fantasy. That’s the lesson I take away from my displeasure with the sound of a vacuum cleaner this morning. Would that I could, or would, learn from every such experience. I could, if only I willed it to be so.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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