Monday, September 19, 2011

What I Hear: Soundwalk

I didn't realize how addicted I've become to plugging my ears every time I went out until I actually did this little walking meditation/ear cleaning exercise. Don't get me wrong, I was always an advocate for ipod-less train rides and walks to work, but I guess one can grow accustomed to traveling with music that it becomes a necessity. My reluctant attitude to put away the ipod on my journey home from school one day ended up being more difficult than I thought it would be initially, however with some time I eased in the groove of "natural" noise.
I walked to Grand Central from Hunter, took the 7 train from there to Roosevelt Avenue, where I got off and walked home- a grand trip adding up to about an hour and a half of natural noise, no distractions, and a open mind. I went several blocks unsure of what my ears were supposed to pick up. Noise is noise- cars honking, random conversations, machines whirling, smoke sizzling... the more I focused on just sounds, I found myself eventually walking blind with my eyes open- if that makes any sense. It was a sensation where I didn't feel like I saw anything, I simply focused on sounds- and for some reason I felt like I could see better, I understood my environment a lot more.
On my walk to Grand Central down Lexington, dominant noises included the six train rumbles from underground, cars honking, and tires screeching. Though there's many people walking and talking- the sound isn't as prolific and demanding as machine noise. The blaring ambulance and fire trucks stick out, the high amplitude of the sirens kill all other sounds and demands attention. On the train, talkative murmur was more apparent. I found myself trying to focus on everyone's conversation, which was difficult since it was US Open season, and there's a heck of a lot of groups traveling together. Despite this, the train announcements were just as loud as sirens on the street, interrupting the natural conversations on board. On my walk through Jackson Heights, language, music, and again- machines filled my ears. Eventually I heard wind blowing through leaves when walking through house lined streets with great trees- ah yes, nature- the best track on this entire CD of natural noise.