“Sit Somewhere in the City for 4 minutes and 33 seconds”

October 24, 2013 By Tom

“Sit somewhere in the city for 4 minutes ad 33 seconds and do nothing but listen”

-random card from a swag bag

pretty simple and clear–love it

I have a random deck of cards from the TEDx swag bag that have different sayings, games and thoughts on them.

and the “sit somewhere…” card really hit home with me.  I first saw it when we were driving back from TEDx, sitting on Mass Avenue as a passenger, I looked around and immediately thought of how many cool spots there were to sit around and listen within walking distance of that intersection.

I kept the card on the top of the pile and put it into my jacket pocket.  When I was grabbing my coat this morning I found the deck of cards and saw my favorite one on the top, right where I left it.  So, I decided to put this into practice today and find a place to sit and listen to the world for 273 seconds.  Unfortunately, it’s snowing outside and otherwise more early December than end of October–so sitting outside didn’t have much of an appeal and I realized if I soldiered on I would only be able to hear my own teeth chattering.

So I did this little life lesson when I stopped by one of my favorite spots for lunch today.  I was suffering from some massive cabin fever and have a busy afternoon and evening so I wanted to make sure I had a decent meal.  Luckily, every other person in Indianapolis apparently thought that lunch sounded great today and I had a full and amusing audience to listen too.

So I sat down, and I left my iPad in my bag, and my laptop, and my hot spot, and I actually turned my phone off.  The watch I was wearing was the most technical thing in my direct possession, a rarity in my always connected, office is always an email away, social media filled 24/7 schedule.

And I listened, I listened to the mother and daughter next to me excitedly talk about the wedding they’re planning.  I heard two attorneys talk about the logistics of a case they are working.  I overheard two women tossing office gossip around their table over an afternoon crepe.  I listened to one guy talking about a bad breakup he was going through.  I heard the discussion between servers on where the kegs that are being delivered go and when the new delivery of bread is arriving.

…and all of a sudden it wasn’t 4 minutes and 33 seconds, it had been closer to 15 minutes.  15 whole minutes without me having a phone in hand or responding to an email.

And it rocked.

So I’m pushing myself to unplug for 15 minutes a day, not because I am in a place that forbids technology (such as airplanes during take off and landing, courtrooms or jail)–but while at my house, or at a restaurant or anywhere else where I can carve 15 minutes out of my day.  My goal won’t be to creepily eavesdrop on other people, but to listen to my own thoughts without distraction.

So my challenge to you is to take a few minutes and unplug, somewhere that you can close your eyes and listen to the world happening around you.