Do you hear that?
The clatter of a busy market. Wheels going 60 miles per hour on badly patched highway. Do you hear the whooping laughter 3 blocks distant tittering off into uncontrolled giggling?
If you have your iPod on you don’t.
Don’t get me wrong, I love music. Hans Christian Anderson said “Where words fail, music speaks.” and I couldn’t agree more.But those ear buds are a barrier to the outside world, cutting the listener off from the unique cacophony that flavors each place.
I was late to the iPod party.I purchased my first, an unassuming gray little shuffle, just 2 months ago. And yes, while jogging and cleaning it feels like a godsend to have Bonobo and Led Zeppelin crooning and thumping, feeling the exquisite audiophile euphoria of the iPod user.
But at what cost?
On a recent cross country early dawn bus ride I rested my forehead against the cool rattling glass. Looking about the bus at the other travelers, most of them napped or stared into the distance with white ear buds dangling.
I was jealous, yeah. I was also conscious that by bringing favorite songs with them across the world they tint the newness of the place with the familiar.
They were in effect cutting themselves off from something both subtle and profound. Something essential to travel. Sound.
How can this effect your travel writing?
You cannot know a place unless you hear it, unless you listen and let it speak to you. Oh, you can see a place, sure. And you may describe it in pithy, incandescent detail. But you cannot fully experience a place unless you actively listen. Not to what you want to listen to,but what you would hear if you were to surrender and sit still.
The creaking, swooshing, chatter of travel is a vital part of the experience and can color your writings.
Shut your eyes. Sit and listen for 5 minutes. This may seem like a long time, hopefully after a few moments you will become accustomed to being a listening thing and new layers of sound, new secrets, will reveal themselves.
Let those secrets inform your travel writings.
And when there is nothing to hear…enjoy! Let the emptiness be your playlist. The great French mime Marcel Marceau put it well, “Music and silence combine strongly because music is done with silence, and silence is full of music.”
What do you think? Am I just a crotchety ol geezer or am I on to something? Do you travel with your iPod?
Well if you are gonna listen to your iPod, you may as well make it good! Check out 10 Music Blogs to Keep Your iPod Stacked with Fresh Beats.
Want to learn the craft of travel writing?
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