For years I’ve had a premonition that I was going to die in a car crash. I’m not a very good driver and driving is also very dangerous (easily the most dangerous thing I do on a daily basis). It’s so odd to think that when I’m on the highway even brushing against one of these other cars could easily lead to my death. Driving requires split-second reaction time, all the time. There is, admittedly, some resilience built in, because most of the time there’s the possibility that the other driver can catch your mistake and find a way to dodge you. But still, it’s pretty horrifying.
Lately I’ve been trying to be a more mindful driver. Mostly this has involved me turning off the radio while I drive. I mean, I’ve no objection to music, but oftentimes I’m just scanning through the stations, looking for a song to distract me, and the whole exercise really adds nothing of value to my life.
I’ve already noticed a distinct difference. When I drive without music, I’m much more aware of my surroundings. I feel more confident when I turn and when I merge lanes. I’m more aware of the other cars around me. It’s not that I’ve become a much better driver–it’s that my attention is now focused more wholly on the task at hand. As a result, I feel a lot safer.
I’m not actually a big music listener. I have all these songs on my iPhone, but I never listen to them. I don’t listen to music while I work, either (for instance, no music is playing now) or while I’m walking from place to place. Sometimes I’ll listen to music while I shower, but even that has become less frequent.
I suppose I’d like to be a more purposeful listener. I don’t want to lose out on music, but I do want to learn how to just listen–how to let music be more than background noise.