Tony Edwards
Sans headphones

Sans headphones

- 2 mins

When was the last time you walked without headphones?

For the longest time, when I’m alone I walk around in public with music, podcasts or an audio book playing. Something that’s been true ever since my first walkman in the 90s, and stayed with me through the evolution of mobile audio. It’s typically true whether it’s a trip around the garden with the cat or stank between towns. It’s a much better option than listening to either traffic or the din of the modern world.

This had become an unnoticed yet ingrained habit. . . until the batteries ran out.

Picture the scene. I’m heading to the next appointment, with this part of the journey by train. The dreaded beep of a dying Pixel Bud starts. By the time I step onto the platform, the status indicator on the phone is showing a measly 2%. Just enough to finish the current song, but leaving me 10 minutes short of the journeys end. No worries. Popping them back in the case started the charge. They’ll be ready again for the return leg.

Once I’d moved away from the roads and into the wooded area, the sound of a car engines morphed into birdsong, random rustling in the undergrowth, plus the chattering of mating squirrels (the latter make a racket, in case you’ve never heard it). Walking along the tree covered path felt so much more pleasurable than ever before, and was certainly a more mindful experience.

Ever since I’ve tried to take a more scenic route between A and B where possible, preferably one that includes some stretches of nature or water. Both are calming and good for the soul. Both provide an opportunity to capture some more bird song recordings.

Even on a train, not being isolated from the environment allows you to drop in on interesting conversations. Today alone I had a chat with my table buddy, heard the full names / courses / campuses / neurodiverse traits of a bunch of students at a local college, and listened in on the train team discussing the impact of recent strikes. All were more interesting than listening to music. . . even if it wasn’t great for my focus.

Returning to our starting question. When was the last time you walked somewhere without headphones on?

Or rather, when will you next walk somewhere without headphones in?

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