Everyone is plugged in- on the bus, the train, in the street, the park. Everyone appears to have headphones, earbuds ( I thought they were banned now), headsets, microphones, trailing wires, wireless, whatever.
And they all appear to be far, far away, listening in to podcasts, broadcasts, downloads, uploads. Just loads.
A few weeks ago, it was a beautifully fresh early spring day, one where the first brave crocus pushes up through the dark leaves, peers about and then calls down to the others, “It’s not so bad” and suddenly, before you know it, there are crocuses everywhere.
I had just begun to walk through the local woods with the dog when I realised a friend of mine was walking towards me. We weren’t far apart, quite close actually and I waved a big, sweeping wave at her- nothing. More waving and no result so I called her name. Still, nothing.
In the end I had to jump in front of her to block her path and only then did she lift her head, unplug and realise that it was me.
It seems to me that more than ever now, during our enforced lockdowns, we are trying to make good use of our daily shuffle round other neighbours doing the same thing, by listening to something on our headphones.
Well, that’s all fine but personally, I prefer to listen to the noises around me- the traffic, the birds and sometimes a woodpecker, busily hammering away, children’s voices, a dog. It feels so disconnected to me, to be listening to something unrelated to where I currently am.
I enjoy long conversations in my head with other people, imagining their responses, judging their reactions and planning my own, witty comebacks. This can have a drawback however, as I can sometimes think I have told the actual person the whole plan in reality and am always surprised when they don’t seem to be “on the same page” as myself.
I also have great debates with myself, talk it all out, consider the options and have usually resolved the whole matter by the time I get back.
Or sometimes, I just listen to the world instead.