The Kid With the Headphones


It’s become a usual complaint that too many young people walk around with headphones in their ears, unaware of others, of their environment, cut off from the world. I understand it’s problematic, even unhealthy to be so out of touch with our surroundings. But I’m hesitant to criticize people about this, especially the youth. There’s a reason they do this.

The world, the present urban environment, feels spiritually cold, numb, violent and alienating to many people, especially kids coming of age. Of course you’d try to escape, and music is a noble place to start. There are worse diversions. My hope is that people will not finally stop at an escape from their environment, but instead, use their love of music and experience of alienation from the world to re-enter the world powerfully and empathically, to attempt to heal it not through force, but through romance. Empathically, because the shared experience of any pain should turn to solidarity, and ultimately, the finding of new life for people who suffer, knowing they aren’t alone. To suffer alienation from one’s surroundings is awful, and youth especially feel this but don’t have the words or confidence to communicate it. The rest of us can do more than self-righteously chastise kids for their methods of coping.

The task of imparting a new relationship with the world falls especially into the hands of nature connection mentors, and any who teach, who guide, who counsel, and whose work is at all in those fearfully embattled places of contemporary childhood and youth. There are many right ways of rehabilitating young humanity’s impaired relationship with the living world.

Adults who work with kids are emphatically called to respecting the interior life of the soul, a practice severely lacking in the immaturity of cities. The private and sensual place of the imagination, like the good dark night after insanity’s day, are vital to the wellbeing of the spiritually intact person, and to the youth who watch us. If the interior life is not nurtured then addictions, obsessions, and disassociation will fill the void.

I’ve heard one of the root meanings of “entertain” is “to divert the heart”. This is eerily fitting. Entertainment has, obviously, become so often a form of checking-out of reality, buying an hour of soothing fantasies to escape the world. This can be done in a way of better awareness: “entertainment” may also be used, in it’s most noblest form, to “divert the heart” back into the eternal heart of the beauty and grace of the real world. Right here is the power and joy we all crave in every large and small inclination of the heart, and here is the map of the world from which all other make-believe worlds are dreamt. Life on earth is the finest inspiration to how life on earth should actually be. Everywhere the soul of the world itself comes to our aid. The world at large, shared between people, is not empty. Even so, I can’t complain if a kid girds himself with headphones instead of guns.


Images © Gentle J. Pine. All rights reserved.

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