And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
~Simon & Garfunkel, Sounds of Silence
Ten thousand people on the subway. Ten thousand people on the city streets. All going about their days locked in isolating cocoons of their own creation. Personal prisons erected to protect themselves from interaction with people. Nary a ‘Hi’. Nary a ‘Hello’. Not even an ‘Excuse me’ when they bump into others as they navigate the crush of bodies with the near precision of schooling fish flying between the sharp branches of a coral reef in their desire to avoid the deadly sharp teeth of predators. Headphones deeply inserted into ears pumping isolating music into their heads. They are trapped in a noisy silence of their own making hearing music without listening to life. They are oblivious.
I enjoy the buoyancy of music as much as I dislike being isolated from the music of humanity in motion, of the universe in explosion. So, I put in only one earphone leaving my other ear free to listen to the sounds the rest of humanity can’t hear because, though they hear music, they walk in isolating silence.
It’s important for me to hear the hum of the car engines that sound like a swarm of mechanical bees, the great farting of city buses, the wailing sirens when I cross the city streets,
To hear the footfalls of people dressed to the nines with hard soled shoes clicking on the hard pavement as they scurry to their offices, as they hustle to the train anticipating the embrace of loved ones at the end of their journey home,
To experience the mournful coo of pigeons and the rattling flap of their wings when they greedily swarm to food tossed in their direction by people relaxing to the song of the fountain while chewing their food during lunch break,
To sense the few trees rustle gentle sonnets when the wind tickles their leaves, or the whispers of the fragrant flowers from pollen borne aloft by currents of air,
To dwell in the collective hum of humanity swirling, breathing, talking into mobile phones, talking to themselves and speaking to no one while they follow their feet to the next destination.
I use only one headphone because I draw energy from the ten thousand people, mostly, because I find comfort in the essence of life being lived. Because I find comfort being wrapped in the sounds of my fellow human beings. Because I become incarnate joy knowing I am connected to the universe.