(Or The Lost Art Of Self Reflection)
I’m a lover of audio. I can hardly move from one room in my flat to another without listening to music or a podcast (my favourites can be found here). My commute has a permanent soundtrack, piped straight into my head through a handy bluetooth headset. The ever-expanding world of podcasts gives us a view into worlds and ideas in an amazing and engaging way. We’re privileged to live at a time where all this content is so widely available and easily accessible.
And yet, increasingly I’ve become anxious about what I’m missing out on, what this convenient musical overlay is drowning out. Almost exclusively on the occasions when my phone has been out of battery and I have been forced to face up to the actual soundscape around me, I have found value in what I heard.
At 3:30am on Saturday morning on an obscure London nightbus an overheard conversation from a production company employee informed me that a major upcoming film (about which I am personally excited) has been ‘fucked up’ and is undergoing massive reshoots. Interesting.
On several other occasions I have been approached by interesting strangers (theatre directors, foreign students, attractive people) who just wanted to start conversations. Other times I’ve just enjoyed listening to birdsong, an alternative soundtrack of sorts.
The other thing we miss out on by utilising this constant sensory input is a bit of quiet time to think about the day. The day that is coming or has been, the night ahead. Time to think about ourselves, where we want to go, the bigger picture. Of course, sometimes we have things we don’t want to think about and would appreciate the distraction – but aren’t those the things that deserve a little thought the most?
This all ties in with some larger ideas I have about living in the moment and seeing beauty in the world around us. In general I am a fan of disconnecting, having very little social media presence for example (excluding this article!). Though I often fail to live out my ideals, I am an advocate of a simple and minimalistic lifestyle. Removing the constant thirst for entertainment of some form fits in nicely with that world view.
So from now on I’m going to resolve to spend one day a week audio free. Use that quiet, none-work time to contemplate the world around me, practice mindfulness or just think about what a good time I had at the weekend.Taking out those earbuds now and then seems like an achievable goal that could bring a bit of benefit everybody.