October 15, 2013

Are We Really Listening? ~ Josie Schweitzer

A few weeks back, I set out for my usual mid-afternoon run.

I had my perfect playlist going and the volume up so loud that if there was an ambulance passing, I wouldn’t have had the slightest clue.

About a mile into the run, my head phones completely crapped out—that’s a funny runner’s joke in case you aren’t hip to our nerdom. My first reaction was “fuck.” Normally, I would have ran back home, slightly frustrated, and gone out for some new ones—only to come back and reattempt my “lovely” afternoon run.

I was downtown at this point and began to notice the people around me. Some were not so well off, and only had with them what looked to be everything they owned, and so this got me thinking, “Why do I need these headphones to enjoy my run?”

The answer was,”I don’t.” And enjoy my run, I did.

This brought me back to an experience I had only a few years prior. I was at my first yoga teacher training in Costa Rica and was told that for 24 hours we would practice “silence.”

Silence, Meaning, we would not engage or speak with anyone. We would not listen to music, we would not read any books and of course we would not watch any television, because yogis don’t watch that shit anyways, right?

Trust me, they do.

My first thought was “fuck.” Sound familiar? Just the thought of it pissed me off and freaked me out. At this point in my life, I had accomplished many things that I believed to be challenging, but I would soon discover those things were nothing in comparison to what I was about to experience. And so, for the next 24 hours, I went through what I imagine was every emotion in existence.

But then something happened—something clicked. I began noticing things I had never noticed before.

I was sitting by myself in one of the most beautiful settings in the world, thinking woe-is-me kind of shit—and then, it happened.

I started to look around and everything was on another level.

The flowers looked amazing, full of color and detail. The birds were chirping, or singing, or doing whatever it is that they do and I actually appreciated those sounds. Normally, it’s background noise that we can go a lifetime without listening to.

See, it’s one thing to hear, but it’s quite another to listen.


1. To perceive (sound) by the ear.


1. To make an effort to hear something.

2. To pay attention.

And so, I will leave you with this little piece of advice:

It is OK—in fact, it is quite amazing—to get quiet sometimes. To listen to what’s going on in and around you. With all of the distractions we have in this day and age, it is very easy to let them control you. Once you realize you have control over them, the simple things become enjoyable.

With nothing to hide behind, we can be ourselves—and the world needs more of that.


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Assist Ed: Laura Ashworth/Ed: Sara Crolick

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Josie Schweitzer