Plugging the nose


As a child I happened to make an exceptional discovery. For several years I was utterly convinced, influenced as I was by other children and by cartoons, that every time I had my nose plugged my voice would have to become acute and dull. Two fingers plugging my nostrils were enough for my voice to change and to acquire a funny and awkward tone. The change in the air flow was minimal, yet the result was a total distortion of my way of speaking, as if I was reacting to some sort of reflex. “Can you talk with your nose plugged?” asked me someone, “Yes, sude! Id is dhad everydhing sounds fuddy!” The same change seemed to happen to all the people around me, how could I then realize that things were not quite so? It was during one ordinary day that suddenly a doubt rose, just like an unexpected hiccup. “What if this is not the true nature of things?”. It was exactly this question that I suddenly happened to ask myself. Who knows where that doubt originated? Perhaps there is a part of ourselves that purposefully decides not to believe to fulfil its desire to experiment. At any rate it was immediately clear for myself that I could not simply shake off this newly achieved awareness. The curiosity was too strong. I had to try to cover my nose and talk. I immediately covered my nostrils with your fingers as I used to. This time, however, I made sure to spill my voice as naturally as possible. At that moment I would have accepted any outcome from this experiment, but I just had to know. And then happened a profound discovery. The tone of my voice had changed, but only slightly. It was a little more high-pitched and nasal than normal but it was not anything remotely close to that distorted sound that I normally heard. A small change in the tone was there indeed, but it was nothing drastic, just a bit more nasal than usual. Every time I think of this story I wonder how many things can be like that for me even now. I wonder how many implicit assumptions still keep alive every day without knowing it. It would be funny to arrive in old age, having done all the experiences you can imagine, only to discover that I have spoken with an absurd and unnatural voice during all my life. To imagine myself with white hair, my experienced look, full of wrinkles and a cartoonish voice, that would be too much! Every day is therefore for me an open season to hunt the absurd assumptions I still make about life. It is not easy, because the grip of the fingers on the nostrils is sometimes made strong by habit. In addition the idea of adjusting to a new tone of voice is not inviting. Still, finding an implicit assumption creates a precedent. Once one assumption is spotted there might be the possibilities of finding some more. From there one cannot simply ignore the fact that things might not be as they appear. From there one has no other choice but to search. And if, at the end of my days, I will still discover that I’ve always spoken with a funny voice it doesn’t matter. I might just go with a big laugh.

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