How My Hearing Loss Has Affected My 'Presentness'


Bali is this place of natural beauty, healthy food, yoga, zen, meditation, blah, blah, blah. I was very excited to experience all that it's sold on. Don't get me wrong, the natural beauty is most definitely there, but it's almost it's biggest strength and biggest weakness, for me at least. I got here thinking, I have 5 weeks to explore this beautiful island! As days started to pass, filled with excursions and explorations, I started to become overwhelmed with my ever-growing list of things to do and see in Bali and its neighboring islands. I became frightened by my own lack of presentness and just living. My experience in Bali was starting to ere more on the tourist/gotta do everything side.

After accepting this realization last week, I slowed down. A lot. And it's been so refreshing, just having a bit more of a routine and letting things happen organically. I was supposed to participate in an excursion Monday and Wednesday of this week. Thanks to the lovely Bali Belly gracing me with its presence, I've pretty much been holed in my room the last few days. Initially I was pretty bummed out to have missed these activities, but I started to think that maybe it happened for a reason. I have a lot going on my last week and half here in Bali, and I think this was Bali's way of telling me to be present for just a little bit in between, a chance to meditate and what not (finally experiencing the other side of Bali's hurrah). 

During my alone time, I've had a lot of time to reflect and ponder. It had me thinking deeper about the concept of 'being present' and my particular 'presentness' or ability to be present. And you've guessed it, a lot of it circles back to my hearing loss.

When I'm in a situation where I'm interacting with people, I am most certainly present. If I want to fully engage in a conversation, I have to be completely in the moment in order to catch the details, otherwise you will get a smile and 'yes' nod (which you will, at times, still get regardless of my deep focus #deafproblems). 

And as I've mentioned previously, due to my hearing loss, I've learned to accept that I don't always have control over situations, so spontaneity is something I thrive on. The unknown is thrilling and in the moment, aka present!

Now while I say I love the unknown, I also love the known. I'm a walking oxymoron. And I attribute this to my hearing loss because in order to feel like a part of something, I've always felt like I had to be one step ahead. In other words, I like having a plan. I like knowing what's coming, so I can prepare for any 'difficult hearing' situations that may come up or any sort of conversational prep work to show that I can participate like and with everyone else. 

That part of me that likes control will always be there, and that will, to some degree, always affect my presentness; but my goal is to work on feeling less of need to plan or at the very least make sure that I'm as present as I can be in that plan when it comes around, if that makes sense. 

Additionally, if there a is a plan, my hope is to do it more for me and not for the purpose of feeling like I have to be on the same level as the person next to me (aka no pre-event social skills prepwork). 

As for Bali specifically? I'm trying to remember that I will experience more by just being here and as present as possible, soaking in my surroundings, than many will in a city they've lived in their whole lives. It's all about the mindset and perspective, isn't it? 

So I leave you with this challenge: take a minute to think about your 'presentness', what it means to you and what influences that state of being for you :)

Ashley DerringtonComment