In a way, I was primed for it. The onset of seasonal allergies had, a few weeks earlier, caused my ear canals to contract. When they finally relaxed that morning, I realized just how dulled and vertiginous I’d been for days (your ears maintain a delicate equilibrium). I was still prone to stumble while standing. My doctor showed me a chart of the middle ear, in which he pointed out the anvil, a small bone that transmits auditory stimuli into sensations. He demonstrated for this desperate patient how to apply a strategic pressure, and pop—coming out of the muted haze, I again heard the world hum. The sounds themselves weren’t new, but I could hear the tones between them.