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I have become a subway isolationist but I love my new headphones.

November 15, 2011

I have new noise cancelling headphones.  I also have new noise canceling headphones. (I haven’t been able to determine which spelling is right.)

Nevertheless, I now wear them on the subway.  Sometimes I wear them at my desk now too to concentrate.

For years, I thought badly of them for the subway.  I could not see the sense of people traveling together but plugged in separately.  It appeared isolationist, even a little rude.

Why was their music more important to them than conversation?  What about connecting with new people, or just plain being sociable?

But now I understand better.  I think people like to withdraw into themselves on the subway.  Some do so for contemplation, some as courtesy to others, some for avoidance.

Now, though, I know a better reason.  I think people are trying to mask the noise of the train.  I don’t know why I didn’t think of this before.

The subway scrapes.  It bumps.  The automated announcements, in two languages, never cease.  The loud annoying clang of the door-closing warning irritates with regularity.

One day, on a whim, I saw my new headphones in a store.  Gosh they were expensive, but I bought them.  It seemed to me the noise on the train was getting worse.

Now I put them on after I’m seated going to a mediation.  I toggle the switch and a strange quiet surrounds me.  It’s not completely silent.  I can still hear muffled conversation and other sounds.   But it’s much better.

I can really concentrate now.  I read the file for the day’s mediation.  I think intently about how I want to handle the day’s conversations. There’s a lot of planning involved in trying to help people to get past the noise of their emotions and to sort out their priorities and find peace if they can.

My headphones also have a feature I never expected to enjoy.  I can plug in an MP3 player and have my own music.  I didn’t even have one of those gizmos but my son ordered one for me online.  Now I am like those all around me.

Now while traveling, I don’t hear the other persons’ complaints, or criticisms, or office gossip, or rap music or whatever.  I don’t hear the scrape and grind of the train.

Instead, I relish in the sounds of Bach’s Third Brandenburg Concerto or Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony, or  Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, or Bernstein’s West Side Story, or even the Canadian Brass performing glorious baroque music, and other recordings.  The music completely surrounds my consciousness.

I too have become a subway isolationist.  But, oh well, the music is magnificent.

Almost nothing bothers me now, but one thing: which is right, noise canceling or noise cancelling?


From → Bubbe Meises, Stories

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