A typical part of getting ready for a ride here in Seattle is the careful threading of my headphone cable from the right jersey pocket of whatever jersey I happen to be wearing that day. I don’t have special playlists, instead I pick an album and listen to it for the entirety of the ride. Most of the albums I listen to are in the forty minute range, and I never stop to change switch. You can imagine that I have a tendency to get inside of the album, I come to know it intimately.
Its not just the long rides, but the short commutes as well. The listening isn’t limited to rides either. Its anytime I walk into an empty room that I plan on occupying for longer than thirty seconds. I have a problem with silence – aparently.
This isn’t news to me. I’ve known it for a long time and I’ve wondered if my habitual NPR and music listening has to do with the fact that I’m afraid to encounter what’s in my own head during my quiet moments. It leads me to think that possibly I should try not listening to something else and listen to what’s happening inside.
I’ve done the no headphone ride before and thought to myself I should do this more often, but have fallen back on the habit the very next day, but last week I quit. Three and a half hours on the Olympic Peninsula with only the my thoughts (and the sound of the wind, and approaching cars, and birds, and my tires on the road).
It back fired a bit. My mind was still intent on filling my head with music, a peculiar mash up of a Taylor Swift and Ani Difranco song. It was unrelenting, but I learned to cope.
I’m still at it and I think its helping me slow down. Which is good because it was recently brought to my attention that I need to slow down, and not be so distracted by what’s going on. Or rather the things that are actually distractions. A few days later however the headphone ban yeilded a result when it came to me that I needed to cut some ties so that I could try to be in Seattle more fully.
I have found other ways to slow down, I don’t plan on making these measures permanent, but I don’t think I’ll go back to riding with headphones.