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  • Writer's pictureHailo

The World has its own Music

and God, his own schedule

Music has sounded so wonderful lately, because I have been listening to less. I've been watching the sunset in silence. I've been smiling at strangers. I think about the audio experience of the world a lot.

In New York, everyone is always listening to something in their own digital world. Talking on the phone to someone far, far away.

I'm always curious of my own irritability at other's voices. What causes it. When I feel it and when I'm happy to listen (For myself, I think this distinction is simply hunger).

I like to think about embodied, audible experiences as messages from God. Little isms and signs and phrases you were meant to hear. Plus, people are funny.

Today, in SoHo, this gentleman stopped me to tell me about "People for Justice." I nodded and told him I'd remember. Then, he hesitated, and told me that he has a table at Tao as well on some nights. I told him that I was okay.

On Saturday, I had the loveliest day of audible participation. I had to go to Brooklyn to get a cake for an event we had. I, of course, almost got on the wrong train and had to wait 15 minutes for the right one. I was reading, and watching everyone on their phones (observational, not condescending). There was one gentleman who was pacing and signing.

At first, I thought he was singing along to his music, until he said something about a girl reading as he passed by me. I reached for my phone, as if it would keep me safe. As if retreating into this little black square would save me if he engaged, if he reached out to touch me.

Safety in a little black box. in a screen. The retreat of the mind, of the soul.

The train arrived. I read a good bit of The Year of Magical Thinking. I am almost finished with it. I'm struck by this section where Didion talks about how doctors unplug monitors when patients are close to the end because their loved ones focus more on the screens than the person, as if it gives them some semblance of control.

I arrived at the station. I came up out of the station, into the world. I made eye contact with a man on the bus that was leaving, through the window.

I got to the bakery. Showed them the order number and waited as they prepared it. They told me it would be twenty more minutes. Lately, I love doing things slowly. Delays, inconveniences become signs from God to slow down. To take the time to do the things that satiate in a deeper way.

I ordered a croissant and a coffee and sat down. No sugar. But there was milk in it. I didn't have the heart to go back and ask the older woman who'd prepared it to make it black.

People came in and out. Told the people of the bakery about family members, surgeries.

"You have to try our coffee," the man said to a couple of others. With pride in his voice. Real pride.

A baby in a stroller chewed at a cupcake, semi sucessfully. Looked up at me. Lately I've been thinking about how all of our earliest memories are looking up because we have nowhere else to. Up at ceilings. At the sky. Whenever I feel stuck, I look at the sky. At the clouds and the way they move.

I spent four hours watching the sunset this past week. Watching planes disappear behind clouds. Watching the reflection of light change as the sun went away. At one point, lying on my back, on my roof, I began to cry. Just a little. I thought about how beautiful this sky was. How beautiful the world we inhabit is, can be, and yet we keep feeding ourselves abstracted versions of it. Looking at the monitor, the screen, instead of the life.

There's a wonderful Robert Henri quote on life. "The living is the thing" he writes.

From the bakery, I took a car home. With the cake. I looked out of the window the entire time. There was a bug inside the car, on the window. Trying to get out. Trying to get out?

I started thinking about windows. I was at The Whitney with a friend once looking at Hopper paintings. My friend said they feel so eerie, so still because they feel like they have no windows.

Last night/this morning, I was speaking with someone about the subjectivity of experiencing art. Who are we to say that Hopper's work is creepy because it feels still. Perhaps we are simply afraid of still.

I watched the bug. Thought about a window in one of my own short stories. Thought about how windows are screens in a way, separating us from the world. "The world." The clouds. The sunset. The big sky.

When we are a child, we look up. We learn that the sky is blue. When are a child, we look up. We listen. We imagine. We live.

I asked the driver if I could roll down the window. He sounded surprised that I spoke. I rolled it down to let the bug out. I kept it down because the air felt nice. We got stuck in traffic, a little.

I watched the people in their own cars, their own worlds. Texting. Singing. Looking back at me. I remembered how much I enjoyed doing this as a child. On road trips. On the way to ballet. Before I had a phone, a screen, a window into a less alive world.

I asked the driver if he was having a nice weekend.

"No," he said. I asked why not, and he said that everyone was going out of town.

"For the holiday?" I asked.

"Yes," he confirmed.

We went over the bridge. I imagined us falling over. And then I remembered, that I didn't have to. Didn't have to think like that.

That, instead, I could also think about how blue the water looked. How nice the sun felt on my cheek.

I got home. Talked to a bunch of people on my block. Everyone thought I had cake for a birthday. I did not.

I'm also going to mail my notes for this piece, from this day, to one of you. I've been thinking about pointe shoes. This NYCB ballerina gave me a signed pair of pointe shoes when I was about nine or so. When I went on pointe myself years later, my own dead shoes just collected and collected in a bucket. Eventually I signed some of my own and gave them to little girls. Tactile proof of having worked at something. Something that exists beyond a screen. Past a window. Maybe this will be like that, in an envelope, for one of you.

The cake will come back. Another writer will pick up where I left off with the cake.

Later that evening, I was drinking at this club. The club has its own app. It lists events, has a payment flow, and lets you message other people. I was here briefly, and by the time I left, I noticed that the man who had been sitting next to me had messaged me in the app instead of simply saying hello.

Shortly after, I noticed that my driver, from over the bridge with the cake had given me five stars. Because I had said hello.

I think about the coffee. About how, hearing his pride in it made me realize there was a reason they asked only whether or not I wanted sugar.

When everything is so personalized, it is also lonely. Accept the things people make with care. Accept people. Let them into your ears, into your mind. Let the world in.

The world is music. We are all harmonizing. Trilling. Taking a rest. Listen. Play. Say hello.

Join in on the music. The one that we can all hear, together.



The 3rd (re)Cognition Summer task is to spend an entire day listening to the world instead of your own music on a streaming platform. Write a reflection and mail it to us.




  • I went back to that bar - w/ the vespers a third time and final time. It feels done. Too sceney.


  • Bookstore etiquette - I was trying to reshelve a book w/ one hand and a stranger helped me. Very nice

Share your deaths/delights in the comments <3


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