I'm on airplanes a lot, often cross-country, and PH gave me the gift of a pair of those fancy Bose headphones. It seems the noise level on airplanes is one of the most exhausting elements of travel (particularly if you've got a crying baby or someone on a chatting jag nearby). The headphones stop that.
It occurs to me that this is a modern-day version of sitting on a pole, like St Simon Stylites, or going off to a hermit's cave, to find quiet to meditate.
I find myself listening to a very odd and interesting mix of music, books on tape, lectures from The Teaching Company, or Yoga Nidra.
On the music front:
The new Bryn Terfel (Welsh baritone) collection of English songs: "Silent Noon"
Susan Graham (lyric mezzosoprano) singing songs of Reynaldo Hahn "La Belle Epoque"- prep for me for a recital I'm doing next week
Chanticleer (men's a capella group) singing spirituals: "Where the Sun Will Never Go Down"
The title cut of the Terfel CD just takes me completely out of myself, like the prose of Ian MacEwen or Walker Percy. Susan graham has singing chops I envy;her very breathing informs my own singing.
I wonder if moments of solitude are a universal need, just as moments of community are equally necessary. Getting the balance right is tricky. Too much of one or the other and I get twitchy. An occasional Sunday afternoon doing nothing but sitting on the couch reading a book is blissful. An entire weekend attempting to do this usually fails. Going to a cocktail party (as we will this evening) with a bunch of friends will be great for a while, then suddenly I've had enough and want to be with PH and my daughter.
The headphones don't completely cut out all outside noise. I suspect this would be unsafe, so they let a little of the outside world in. Part of the balance between solitude and communion, perhaps?