Escapist Listening

When I’m on public transport I use headphones, as many do, to block out the noises around me. While I do sometimes listen to music, I often prefer to put on some calming nature sounds using an app on my phone, waves lapping or leaves rustling – that sort of thing. Initially, I had only really thought to use them as a sleep or study aid, but it has since become a form of light meditation for me. London can be a loud, stressful place and so they regularly soundtrack my commute.

The app features various man-made sounds too such as: noisy airport terminals, cafes and food courts, washing machines in a laundrette, the indistinct chatter of people passing by etc. Until now, the sole reason I used this app was to try and block out sounds such as these, and so it baffled me as to why anyone would want to listen to them by choice, or why they were on there at all.

But right now, after a month locked indoors from the ongoing pandemic, I would like nothing more than to sit in a busy cafe, to hear coffee machines grinding away, air-conditioning humming, cups clinking together, and the mundane gossip of nearby friends. Ironic, I know.

At the moment this app is the closest I am going to get. I long for the noise of the outside world. I never thought I would miss it so much. When this is all over, I don’t think I’ll ever take it for granted again.