The Art Of Listening
When was the last time you sat or laid down to listen to an album all the way through, start to finish? Just you, the music, the environment you are in, and maybe a significant other. Could be an older album that you have heard a million times before or a new one where your ears and mind come in fresh, ready to explore. I asked this question over on Twitter earlier today and had mixed responses. Many have never done this while others could not remember the last time they have. It is an experience that requires a few simple things, a love for music, a little patience, and time.
Many people seem to think it is unreasonable to do something like this because of the amount of time it takes to devote to the process. Odd thing is that most of us wouldn’t think twice when deciding to watch a two hour film yet when asked to devote 45 minutes to an hour with a collection of songs it seems like a far fetched notion, a waste of valuable time.
A good album can read like a book if you let yourself fall in. Just like reading a new book there is sometimes that little bit of hesitance within the first few chapters, your’e not sure if this will be worth your time when you get started and you let yourself get distracted or anxious. I feel focusing your attention to music without doing other things at the same time is akin to meditation. To many it would seem it is seen as simply white noise to fill the silence while they work and play. Even if you have your favorite songs that you listen to countless times over there is still something magic about letting yourself exist purely with the music and nothing else.
When I give myself time in the morning or evening to simply lay down and listen to music I catch myself getting lost in the words or nuances of a recording. Other times I find I am staring off into the sky lost in a memory or an idea. It gives me a chance to slow down and get lost in my own mind rather than having my hand be held as I am guided through a story and instructed how to feel as movies or books often do.
Music allows you to be anything, it gives you the chance to clear your mind and let your thoughts guide you to a place not often visited within the fast moving world around us. If you give yourself an empty palate within your mind the music will fill it with color and emotion. If you allow yourself to get lost from time to time you will quickly start to discover ideas and memories once forgotten or create new ones in the process.
Here in lies the beautiful part of the idea. Take a moment here to consider the last time you gave yourself a few minutes to simply exist with no distractions. Sometimes we trick ourselves into thinking we have while in reality it seems a lost art. The art of doing nothing. It can seem to be a bit of a zen idea, sure, but I believe we could all use a few zen moments in our busy lives. I do realize that things change, and maybe for some of us there really is no time in today’s world for admiring music in this way but that idea makes me kind of sad to imagine.
Music can be an experience just like any other form of art or meditation and it should not be overlooked so casually. Life is too short not to allow yourself to get lost in your imagination every now and then, it’s a gift and it should be exploited. I think what brought these thoughts to my mind was the fact that I have a few distinct memories of listening to albums in this way and they are such fond old memories that will stay with me. This is not something I would expect everyone to do on a regular basis, but it’s something that I could encourage anyone to explore at least once.