Slow Down, Listen

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It wasn’t until a couple weeks ago that I started noticing the sounds of the desert. It started with a workshop hosted at Shop on the Mesa, also my place of employment. The woman leading the workshop had us start with a moment of mindfulness. She had us focus on our breathing, the sounds in the shop, the sounds outside, the smells, so on… 

I went home that night and as I was falling asleep, I realized I could hear the sound of cars from the highway. I could hear dogs barking in the neighborhood. It was the first time in six years that I had gone to sleep in my own bed and actually thought to listen to the world outside.

I realize now that New York City placed me in a state of subconscious survival. People would ask if my neighborhood was loud, and it was. I just didn’t realize how much that noise, and so many other things in that city had compromised my ability to be present and mindful of myself and my surroundings.

Before I left NYC, my friend Timarie and I spent an evening together visiting our usual Soho spots, and we were talking about the different ideas I had for documenting the road trip ahead. We got to talking about field recordings and while at the New Museum gift shop, stumbled on a book of artist interviews detailing various aspects of their own field recordings.

I’ve continued to try to be more aware of the noises and sounds I live with here. So far, I feel there are two sounds that really sum up the time I’ve spent here:

  1. Birds – chirping, flapping their wings, claws scratching the wooden trellis outside of our bedroom.
  2. Wind – I suppose as the Santa Ana winds start inland, there starting RIGHT HERE. It is truly incredible just how strong the gusts can be, and that’s in the midst of constant 30mph winds. How it rustles the leaves, whistles through the house, and kicks up sand so high it looks like clouds.

Above, a photo of the sand in yesterday’s winds. Below, the sound of the birds at our house earlier this month. We have a lot of trees and bushes on our property, and when the sun sets the birds come home for the night. It’s an overwhelming chorus of chirping and singing, and once the sky turns a dark shade of indigo, they all stop within seconds of each other and we’re left with the sound of crickets and barking dogs in the distance.

Meditate to it, fall asleep to it, read to it… or don’t listen to it and you can enjoy your city sounds.

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