I’m part of the headphones generation. I rarely travel anywhere without a set of them somewhere about my person. I have multiple pairs of them, there’s the ones I wear when I want to cancel out the rest of the world, there’s another pair I wear when it’s important to hear some level of background noise. When I work from home there’s nearly always music playing.
All of this noise – but I’m not really listening.
Recently I’ve been trying to learn how to listen, really listen.
Listen to the humming sound that my home makes when no-one is home. Hearing the central heating awaken and go back to sleep. There’s always a click from the radiator in the kitchen a few seconds after it starts up.
Listen to the rustling sound that the hawthorn hedge at the bottom of my garden makes when it’s windy. And when it’s really windy the sound of next-doors silver birch rubbing against the fence between the two gardens.
Listen to my breathing (panting) as I cycle to work. Hearing how it changes from street to street and hill to hill.
Listen to the different tone of my footsteps as I walk around the woods. Squelch, squelch, tramp, tramp, squelch (at the moment).
Listen to the rhythm of my fingers on the keyboard as I type. And the click of the mouse as I run it around the desk.
It’s amazing what you can hear when you listen. I’ve been trying to savour this mundane sounds.
I have to be honest though, the sounds of the washing machine still drives me mad.
If listening sounds like a terribly dull thing to you perhaps this talk will inspire and challenge you: