Before I begin, let it be known that I had a pretty good post written before my iPad decided to freak out on me. So here's part two!
One of my greatest talents in life is being able to eat large amounts of bread in one day. I love bread. I'm fairly certain that when I'm not at home, my family's bread consumption goes down by at least 63%. My mom can probably confirm this (hi mom, happy almost mother's day!) Anyway, if it's made from flour, water, salt, and yeast, and stuck in an oven for like an hour, I'll probably eat it. Brotchen, salty olive bread, brotchen with poppyseeds, pretzels with butter, ciabatta, even the ominously-healthy-looking vollkornsbrot... I will eat it. As I sort of like to say, frühstück is the most important stück of the day and if there's not bread involved, then what's the point? What I'm saying is that Germany is great if you like bread. Forget beer. Forget various meat-and-potato dishes. Bread is where it's at.
And now for something completely different!
In America, it's totally normal to listen to music as you walk. On the rare and miserable days where I forget my headphones, I notice that I'm one of the very few people without headphones. Everyone else is listening to something - an NPR podcast or a voicemail from their dad or their friend's new mix tape or even ocean noises, just not what's around them. They don't hear other people talking to each other, they don't hear bike bells ringing, they don't hear the world. But it's so ingrained into our culture, or at least it is with young people. Yesterday, I went on a little adventure through the city, and habitually, I unrolled my headphones from their coil, plugged them into my phone's headphone jack, stuck the buds in my ears, and went for my recent favorites.
Imagine my surprise when, as I'm jamming out to some OutKast on the tram, I realize that almost no one else is listening to anything. On a packed tram, I'm one of maybe three people getting my tunes on.
It's not like there's much else to listen to - every few minutes, a very serious voice announces the next stop. An angry driver honks at some wayward pedestrian. There's an ambulance siren. Usual public transportation type things. Nothing special. No one's talking to anyone, because gross, strangers, but no one is blocking themselves off from the world.
As OutKast slowly faded out and a Frank Zappa tune came on (do not judge me), I realized just how isolating headphones are. I could be missing so much! Someone would literally have to yell at me before I realized they were talking to me. I turned the music off and just sort of listened to the world around me. I wasn't listening to much as just letting the noises of the city happen; if there was a siren, there was a siren. I also found that I could think a little more. Instead of pretending to be in a music video and singing along in my head, I could actually think. It was not a bad experience.
Will I continue this no-headphones thing in America? Maybe. Sometimes you just gotta walk across the Diag while listening to the theme from Pulp Fiction, but sometimes, you also just gotta give your brain a break from the constant noise. There's a marked difference between like noise from your headphones and noise from your surroundings; I'm talking about the former. Your brain doesn't need all that stimuli all the time, I guess.
Thanks for reading,
Until next time,