I recently sat on my couch listening to a full Nada Surf set during one of their visits to the local Seattle radio station via YouTube on our computer, and as I sat there tapping my toes along with the music as my cat lazily lunged nearby, I realized that it has been a long time, years perhaps, since I had simply put on music and just listened. I listen to music nearly every day, you see, but it's usually while I'm commuting, cooking, cleaning---doing anything else other than just simply listening. The other common scenario is that I start to listen to music, and then slowly but surely am lured into looking up reviews of the album online or scanning Wikipedia for history of the band. True, being led by your curiosity about a band, movie, or book isn't a bad thing at all, but for me, it tends to become a distraction in the moment.
In the midst of our busy, busy, busy, multi-tasking lives, it seems like it should go without saying to stop and smell the roses, artistically speaking. But it still feels a little bit like rebellion when we do. Give it a try. Here's some ideas:
- Watch a movie. Turn off your phone so you're not temped to Google the actors, director, or production history. Just watch.
- Go to an art museum and don't take any photographs or post to Facebook or Twitter. Just be there.
- Take a long walk and listen to a new album as you stroll. No Facebook checking allowed.
- Read an old fashioned book instead of a Kindle if you are tempted to flip from title to title. As with a movie, leave your phone off and away so you aren't tempted to start reading reviews or checking who has been cast in the upcoming movie version.
It feels silly to even type those suggestions, but I for one need the reminders about disconnecting from the hustle and bustle of the inter webs and texts and calls. It's not easy to do, but as with many habits that we try to break, when we are able to step away from our gadgets, I suspect that we will be delighted and surprised to find how quickly and deeply we can get sucked into a good story, a new (or old) movie, or a symphony. And it's often when we are at our most focused and relaxed that art has the most magical ability to allow us to see past the veil of the everyday and understand a bit more about who we are and what we want to experience in this world. Only when we can meditate deeply on these things is it possible to also think about what we can offer each other, as humans and artists.
Wishing you a Sunday where you truly see, listen, feel, and imagine with nothing in the way.