Should We Be More Connected to the World Around Us? Taking Out our Headphones

Mindfulness. What a loaded word— it’s unclear where to start, let alone how to achieve it! Most people know this is a word they should be more familiar with, but they never seem to find the time. However, when I’m walking down the street alongside crowds of others, all of us trying to get to wherever we need to go, it seems that time could not move any slower. It’s the in-between moments that can feel so much like nothing! The walking to class moments; waiting for the crosswalk moments; standing in line moments; cramped in the metro moments— these are the times that cannot go by fast enough in today’s world. Fortunately, we have the luxury of popping in some headphones to help those times pass by feeling less like nothing.

I say ‘fortunately’ because I mean it! I’m sure that old Frank Sinatra would have loved to listen to his favorite music or radio stations on demand during the in-between moments. But I have to wonder, would he have been able to create “Strangers in the Night” if both he and the mysterious lady were trapped in the sight and sound of a handheld device? What if she was so wrapped up in a true crime podcast that she switched streets at first sight of old Frank?

I’m straying from my point. What I feel that this whole argument really comes down to is a modern human’s ability to listen. Does it really take a $200 ear hole-shaped direct amplifier to get people today to do something as simple as listen?

When I ask myself why I’m not particularly inclined to listen in the moments mentioned, my answer is that it would be boring. Fair enough; but must that be a bad thing? Am I never supposed to be bored? And would an open-eared walk down the street really be so boring if I tried tuning in to the sounds that weren’t so directly available to me? It might actually be exciting to try and pick out as many sounds of life as I could— and no sound would be too trivial. Equally valuable would be the recognition of a bird call and a jacket zip, a windswept tree, and a car horn.

And this is where mindfulness would come in; taking the (little) time to notice the elements around you, and appreciating them, is a wonderful way to be present. It is a small step to take in the direction of peace, and not one we must take in every in-between moment. However, I think it could make a noticeable impact on our relationship with the growing world around us.


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