After staring for a while rather wistfully at the half moon as I walked, the darkness slowly enveloped me and led my thoughts to wander to a recent reference question at work. The patron (a.k.a customer) wanted books on visual and auditory learning. Once I determined that our library catalog used the subject heading “cognitive styles” to tag this subject, I unfortunately determined that we did not have any books particular to that topic. My colleague with more years of reference under his belt than myself took over mid-stream but we did not end up meeting her wish to walk out the door with books related to this topic. I wondered what type of learner I was – visual or auditory and this dusk to darkness transition seemed a metaphor for the visual to auditory shift.
As nighttime caused my visual sense to recede, I spontaneously turned my evening walk into a symphony of sounds. Like a child discovering her environment with newness and awe, I concentrated fiercely to see what sounds surrounded me. It was an eye-opening — or should I say ear-opening — experience to notice just how often I am focused on the visual when I walk on the bike path with all its stimuli of flowers, swans, clouds, marshes and water. Soon my focus swam instead in the chorus of crickets, the cry of a seagull, the wind rustling in the trees around me and the lapping of the waves against the river and marsh banks on each side of me. The shipyard on the other side of the Providence River added the noises of human civilization with its punctuated addition of cargo contents loading and unloading off of large ships. I decided that the auditory sense tends to get neglected when our surroundings offer charming visual feasts. The musicality of the sounds around me seemed just as worthy of attention and the darkness of night provided a shortcut to that particular destination.
The true test will be my vantage point during a daytime walk along the path. On a glorious fall day with a gentle breeze, the tactile sense may crowd in as well when that breeze glides into my heart. Have you ever tried to determine your learning style? Are you a visual, auditory or tactile learner? You might try my experiment and walk through a favorite environment during both day and night and see wherein you find the greatest charm.
One last note – it only seemed fitting that I should write this post while listening to music. I picked another theme song of sorts for this girl on a road. I hit repeat on Itunes and wrote with the song Never-ending Road (Amhrán Duit) from the Ancient Muse CD on playback loop. Loreena McKennitt, another Canadian vocalist genius lyricist and singer, writes/sings:
The road now leads onward
As far as can be
And hedgerows in threes
By purple mountains
Round every bend
All roads lead to you
There is no journey’s end.