The guy who sits in front of the TV set with headphones on has lost the capacity to react to the tactile environment.     


First off, this isn't meant to dissuade anyone from listening to music or offend anyone who uses their headphones as a way to lift their spirits in times of sadness or uncertainty, or while they're getting in some exercise. That may, in fact, be healthy sometimes.


I recently had an interesting discussion with my life coach about the fact that she never wears headphones. When I asked her why, she gave me an interesting answer. She said something along the lines of:


I'm a human being, right? When I go outside for a walk, or on my way to work, I don't get to opt out of interacting with other people. We have a society that requires a human connection. We thrive on it, and the way to keep ourselves from drowning in disconnection is to stay disconnected from the devices that we're addicted to every time we feel a certain way emotionally. So much of who we are actually slips away from us when we're under the influence of music. We're just on standby, and when our attention is suddenly required, we're not at our most focused when pulled away from the trance of isolation created by headphones and music.


I hadn't thought of it like that before, but it's so true. Every time I go out for a walk, I pop in headphones without realizing that there's a whole world out there that requires my attention. Nature has music of its own, and I might actually be missing opportunities if it weren't for me always being self-involved. I recently started only wearing and listening to music at home and it's changed my view of things. Being in the present moment feels so rewarding. I'm no longer neutralized, but an active participant in the world, saying hello to random strangers and making conversation.


When I'm at home and on my own time, then I can take the time to listen to my music, be it via headphones or wireless speakers. Until then, though, eyes focused on the world and ears open.