I do most of my work in isolation, which can be bad for the soul, so I tend to fill up a bag with books and various other items of paperwork and head out to a restaurant or a cafe—or a Starbucks, which qualifies as neither—to get work done. It makes me feel a part of humanity.
Sometimes, however, it makes me feel like a part of humanity a little too much, given the dreadful music and radio stations which are broadcast in most establishments. Then there is the mindless chatter that passes for conversation now in post-civilization America. With all of this going on, I find it quite difficult to concentrate, or to maintain even the slightest bit of hope for humanity, if the truth be told.
Alas, I have had a fortuitous turn of events. Last week, in a round of shopping, I went looking for an extension cord for my headphones, which has a wire that is just too short. I could find no extension cords. I did, however, find noise-cancelling headphones. They cost more than I had anticipated spending, but the more I stood there, the more tempted I was to buy them.I could get an extension cord now, but I’d still be coming back later for the headphones. That’s how I rationalized buying them.
After less than a week, I can say that the payoff from these things has been tremendous. Using them transforms any environment into a work-friendly location. I’m presently sitting in a Subway listening to Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony under the innovative direction of Sergiu Celibidache. I only hear other noise when the music is exceedingly soft.
Some traditionalists in society complain that the advance of technology has worsened the advance of egalitarianism, and there is some truth to this. Karaoke is evidence of this. So is American Idol. So is Bill O’Reilly’s no-spin zone, along with Chris Matthews’ Hardball. The beauty of technology, however, is that it can be used by the wise to counter-act the fools. For every stupid article there is in the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal, there’s a good article someplace like anti-war or Lew Rockwell. It is the same with my headphones. There is a speaker not far from my head pumping out audible excrement, including traffic reports that are probably already five minutes old, but I have my headphones, and I’m listening to some of the best music ever made.
I suspect—and I do not jest—that my stress levels are going to go down thanks to this angelic innovation.