The Sound of Nothing
With the splendour of a pocket sound system, we can be at the Royal Opera House or at a secret Prince gig anywhere we are. The comfort of listening to music puts us in our own protective bubble where we set the mood and atmosphere. It keeps us going on runs when our calves are starting to burn, or on bright days stuck in an office when we can’t wait for a post work beer. Recently however, I have noticed how many of us are plugged into our own worlds, tapping feet to different rhythms, and not only when we are commuting on tubes or sprinting around a park, but when we are surrounded by a city so beautiful and with so much detail and nature.
From being in school through to university, I’ve never liked to turn the sound of the world off. Instead I have preferred to tune into it, leaving my earphones tangled at the bottom of my bag. This isn’t through the choice of having to spend 5 minutes untying mysterious knots, but because I learn a lot. The phrase ‘hear no evil’ is strong, but if we do not hear evils then how do we learn and how do we create solutions? Maybe the sound we need to hear is right in front of us.
Sometimes we need respite from man made noise to observe the natural. I never realised how quickly an ant could move on it’s tiny legs, or quite exactly how birds flicker. We can see a world where the murmur of an inner monologue provokes interest in an area otherwise vacant.
There are times when music and stimulation work, and others where it is better to simply listen. Each walk I take I realise more understated sounds that would never have crept into my life if it wasn’t for the choice to leave my earphones at home. Becoming a listener is much harder than listening, it takes practice and patience for you to hear fulfilling sounds. If we accept listening into our daily life, becoming a listener will follow naturally. Forcing ourselves to notice things will only result in a string of attempts, but by cultivating awareness there never has to be an attempt.
Spending a short time of my day without artificial noise has become a religious practice through the years. I prefer to feel my body as I breathe and be aware of the inhalation of life into the world around me. Regular walks in the park open up a new world which gives us opportunities to be attentive to detail. Each day provides a daily surprise harmony which blends and fosters our thoughts. The surprises are limitless as our surroundings evolve, grow and produce natural curiosities. Seeing the world’s own creativeness incites the ebbing flame inside each of us.
Music can inspire a generation and sometimes we do require the 160 BPM as we pound the pavement. Still, we can learn, we can feel peace and we can find an inner wisdom just from the stillness of not choosing what we listen to, and we can gently coax out great ideas. After all, ancient meditation relied on noting the body’s movements.
Written by Caitlin Lomax.