What would it feel like to do one thing at a time?
Hang on a minute. I pride myself on double-diary dating and multi-tasking.
Sorry, I digress.
A friend and I were talking recently and he was relaying a conversation where he had been talking about music. Music, he was saying, has become background noise. We don’t listen to music, rather it provides the soundtrack that we wish to live to. It accompanies us as we commute, whilst we work, when we eat and socialise.
This got me thinking. In our multi-tasking times when do I ever do one thing at a time?
Even when relaxing I may watch TV whilst scrolling through The Guardian website on my iPad or when eating, check my text messages, I may even fit a handstand in there somewhere! Life can feel like a constant and tiring challenge to juggle as many tasks as possible, to be efficient and tick off as many items off the ‘to-do’ list as possible or check every update or new follower on my Twitter account; yes even the Spam ones!
What might it look like to do just one thing at a time at work or with friends and family? What might it mean to give one person my full attention, not checking the time or my latest notification on Facebook as they tell me less than important news?
I am not sure I can. I mean I have just been chatting to a 76 year old lady who, in spite of me making it physically very clear that I was needing to go, kept on chatting. I mean chatting. I even got to hear how her and her husband met, then I made the mistake of asking when they got married, to which she answered with details about her children, grandchildren and the prolonged birth of her kids, “you’d have thought they didn’t want to come into this dark world” she commented; on her own story. As the stories piled up I was slowly moving, to point that I was far enough from her quiet voice only to catch 1 in 3 words of what she was saying, whilst still nodding and thinking inside can I make it any clearer love? See what I mean. I don’t find this easy.
Perhaps I can learn the value of one thing at a time, through music?
When was the last time I stopped, sat down and listened to music and did nothing else? No, this does not mean using the iPad. When? I couldn’t answer this question. I had no idea. What about you?
So this month I bought headphones. Some of the nice comfortable ones. And now just from time to time I listen to music. I mean really listen; to the voice of the singer, the plucking of the guitar, the melody, the key change.
I stop. I do one thing. I listen to music. I give myself to the creative efforts of the artist or composer. Wholeheartedly. A little more lentement. A little more peace.
Perhaps I might better listen to story-telling old ladies too.