Who Is That Masked Man?


[In the theater, only a ghost light is still lit. (see ACT III NEW RULES)

In the near darkness, a figure sits with legs over the edge of the stage]

House lights, please…..


Well folks, ………its been awhile.

5 months, 190,000 souls and George Floyd later, here we are.

Maybe a conversation is in order.

Obviously my quest to hear didn’t stop..just the narrative about the journey lost it’s voice.

It has just seemed to me that given the magnitude of the struggles this country is facing…..no, that’s not right…it’s “the struggle each of us is facing”….this is a very individual time of crisis. While we witness daily, inexcusable acts and words, THE cardinal sin in America today might be silence. But this is not the place for that discussion.

[Pause, quiet breathing]

I hate it when I interrupt my own thoughts…

What I mean to say is that a story about my hearing loss and my efforts to restore it …is pretty inconsequential beside the many stories that need to be told right now. That’s not meant to be self- effacing ..it just feels like the truth.

So with the justification that this might provide you a small diversion and me a reconnection, let me relate a bit of an update on my hearing quest and an odd quirk of the pandemic. It won’t take long.

Act III was early April and I am now 10 months since my surgery for the implant.

Unequivocally, the Cochlear Implant has changed my life. Prior to last October, it had become crushingly difficult to function. Most of what was going on was lost to me. I wasn’t one on the beneficiaries of the gene therapy trial. Only with the help of hearing aids, remote microphones and the efforts of people around me was I able to participate at all. And it was getting noticeably worse.

That’s not the case today. I can’t hear everything but I can hear most things. By “hear” I mean comprehend the sounds in my life: Conversation, birds, noises and a bit of music. Unfortunately, music is still pretty elusive. Hearing music is much better than it was in April but it doesn’t sound like “music”.

Some of that might be on me for not putting in quite enough work. Have you noticed that it’s been difficult “to do the work” in 2020?

But joyfully, I can function, participate….. Fairly easily, as long as my batteries don’t die.

Its pretty wonderful and amazing.


Now, the pandemic quirk I mentioned. Think about it. Whether actively or subconsciously nearly all people with hearing loss read lips. And that brings us to those life saving, perhaps nation saving masks that are there in our life every day. No more lip reading.

I can hear pretty well now, but I absolutely had and have relied on lip reading to help understanding.

Complicating it further, everybody sounds a bit like they are mumbling behind the masks.

It would be pretty hard to overstate the setback it has been for over 30 million Americans with hearing loss.

As if Covid and the social climate weren’t isolating enough, masks have further separated those of us with hearing loss from the rest of you nice folks.

In response, there have been developed clear masks to try to enable lip reading. The first ones have been pretty clunky and hard to wear. More recent versions are more comfortable and provide better protection. They are more expensive ..of course.. and not very widespread.

Ironically the people who DO seem to have them are the hard of hearing….but to be of any help, they need YOU to wear it not them. If you are in a setting where someone offers you a clear mask to wear…try to accommodate. It is probably someone who would really appreciate being able to read your lips….and see your smile.

I’m going to go now…thanks for the chance to talk.

Take good care of one another out there, please.

In the meantime, while we wait for the time when all the actors will be back on stage, if something interesting happens….. I’ll come back out.

Can we dim the house please?

[Theater fades back to darkness, while the ghost light persists]


1 Comment

  1. Ken Miracle September 14, 2020 at 5:46 am

    It has been a sad and crazy time since your last post. I have had gallery exhibits postponed, print contests canceled, a photography conference in West Yellowstone cancelled, learning to listen without the aid of reading lips when needed, had my hearing aids replaced (under warranty) when their waterproof feature failed just from sweat while working out or hiking and my routine hikes along the Boise River curtailed and now I am stuck in side because of the smoke from the West Coast fires. Church services curtailed and altered when resumed.

    All of that pales in comparison to the tragedy we sinful humans are playing out with our violence and hatred toward each other. Sadly we see abuses of power by authorities from the police to state and national elected officials. We also see looting, arson, shooting and other violent acts that detract from the just and peaceful protests.

    And the most polarized political environment in Congress, Presidential elections and State politics that I can remember has become more and more divided after is started back in the era of George W, accelerated during the Obama era and has exploded in Trump World.

    A poorly managed pandemic where those in authority ignored offers of help from our allies like South Korea and Taiwan. Health issues from mask wearing to social gathering restrictions and school attendance etc. have become politicized and created violent confrontations.

    So yes I completely understand why your narrative fell silent. Our world our government and our fellow humans are in our prayers daily. We do not know what God’s plan is but we are blessed with the Word and our faith.

    Margie is having eye surgery for cataract removal and a lens implant this Thursday with cataract surgery on the other eye next month. If all goes well she will be able to see without glasses and have depth perception and night vision dramatically improved. She may become super birder by ear and eye.