The Sound at the Edge of Endurance

There is a sound that is heard at the edge of endurance. At moments of agony, moments of despair, moments of trancendence. It is the soundtrack to the moment when you say to yourself “this thing I am feeling cannot fit inside me. Either it needs to get smaller, or I will die.” I don’t know what the sound is. It feels haunting, it feels thrumming, it feels powerful, but it’s subtle. I was speculating with Vivian about what the sound is. It could be auditory hallucinations driven by trauma, it could be that our brains need to have auditory components to moments like this, I don’t really know. The current thought I am playing with it is that is the sound of the future collapsing into the present.

Ancient thinkers talked about the metaphysical principle of the music of the spheres. Pythagoras was the first person we know of who pondered this. He measured different strings and noticed that the pitch of the string depended on its’ length. He then applied this to the planets and calculated, based on his understanding of their distance, what they would sound like (incidentally this is what Jupiter sounds like). His intellectual heirs expanded on this theory and transmitted them to European thinkers. Kepler in particular was excited by this idea and using the sun centered theory of planetary motion he calculated what each of the planets would sound like and included the information in his wonderful text Harmonices Mundi.

Modern theories of physics hearken back to the idea of music, postulating that the universe is made up of tiny strings whose oscillation patterns determine the nature of matter. I love the idea that in a sense, existence IS music. Earlier I referred to the sound of Jupiter and I find it fascinating that in a certain way of thinking, our lives -everything we are and will ever be- is a song.

One fascinating little tidbit about the song of our lives and the way we experience time is that we don’t actually live in the present moment. Try this your self: touch something with your foot and with your hand at the same time. You experience the sensation as happening at the same time even though the nerve signal takes slightly longer to get to your brain from your leg. This is because the brain has a lag time that allows signals from all over the body to be experienced at the same time. The lag time is about 80 miliseconds.

A pleasant visual metaphor (although the physics could easily be wrong) comes out of these tidbits. Normally we stand in the center of the vehicle that is our relationSHIP with Samsara. Maybe in moments of intensity we struggle forward to the bow of our SHIP, look over the edge, and watch the wave function collapse the future into the present. The unearthly keening we hear is the the sound of our consciousness crushing the possible into the actual.