Recently, I was on a train travelling back from a day trip into New York City. It was a Sunday, so the train was mostly full of families returning from one outing or another, and also a smattering of business people. As the train pulled away from Penn Station, I settled back and shut my eyes and began to think about the events of the day. After a few moments, I began to realize that someone in the seat in front of me was talking. And talking. And TALKING. It was a young girl in her teens or early twenties chatting on a cell phone. She was speaking in a foreign language, so I was uncertain what she was talking about, although I could certainly hear her loud and clear. This went on for the entire length of the train ride, which was around 20 minutes. I began to wonder just who the other person was on the phone that was actually listening to the girl going on and on, and if that person was as bothered as I was.
There was a woman sitting across from me reading a book. Several times, she glanced up from her book and looked at the young girl. At one point, she caught my gaze and looked at me and shook her head. We both smiled and had a bit of a giggle over such an annoying occurrence. I got off the train at my designated stop, and left my chatty travelling companion still talking away.
Of course, this isn’t the first time that I’ve been assaulted by a person ‘over-communicating’ in a public place. Be it a cell phone or just a conversation between two people, lately I feel like wherever I go, there’s a whole lot of talking going on. I think maybe the reason it bothers me so much has something to do with my age. I don’t know at what point things like this start to annoy the hell out of you, but unfortunately, I’ve reached the age where it has.
But here’s my question: WHY? I have to honestly admit, I simply don’t have that much to say. For the life of me, I cannot imagine talking about any one subject for that long without stopping, hesitating, or letting the other person at least say one or two words.
There’s a lot to be said for silence. It’s almost becoming a lost art. Silence gives you the opportunity to reflect or think through a problem you’ve been having. Silence is also a great way to relax and quiet your mind and remove yourself from the stresses of the day. I think it’s important to sit quietly every day for a few moments and just BE. We are all so connected now through social media sites, email, cell phones, smart phones, etc., that I think it’s easy to forget how important it is to remove ourselves from our daily routines and focus on not only ourselves, but our interaction with other people. Is anyone really listening? Or is there constant, unending meaningless chatter?
I’m guessing you are wondering what this has to do with what I usually blog about: green design. Of course, it has nothing to do with it, except that I deal with people all day long and sometimes it’s difficult even to listen to my clients. I think sometimes we listen to people talk too much all the time that we forget to LISTEN to what they are saying. And listening to my clients is probably the most important thing I can do in order to deliver a design they will be happy with.
I’m going to make a conscious effort to try to listen more to what people have to say. And also try not to chat on my cell phone in a place that I know would bother other people. It’s time to become more aware of my surroundings, other people, and mostly, aware of what it means to be silent.