The other morning I did something unusual. I left the house to walk to the train station without putting in my earphones.
For me, this is rare. My normal routine has me loading up a podcast within seconds of shutting the front door. I then listen to that for the first 30-odd minutes of my commute, before switching to music for the remainder.
On this particular day I had just minutes to reach the station, so decided not to plug in immediately. When I arrived, my rush was in vain: “Train cancelled”.
So I did something different. I sat on a bench on the platform and just listened without any other distraction. It’s no exaggeration to say it was a revelation.
Rather than the insulated world I’m used to, I truly stopped and paid attention to the world around me.
And the predominant sound I heard was the song of four or five different types of bird, beautifully chirruping and tweeting in harmony.
There was also the low murmur of the ticket attendant talking to a customer and the occasional beep of an electronic sensor, but I was overwhelmingly struck by the serenity and beauty of it all.
It’s so easy to stick your headphones on and block out the world around you – something many, if not most, of us are guilty of.
But changing routine occasionally and ‘noticing’ the world around us is something we should all do.
Try it and let me know how it goes.