I was on a photo walk with Steemian @teodora last autumn when we came across this scene in Victoria Park, London. This man was so into what he was reading, that he didn't even notice us there - not even after the loud shutter and winding noises of the Canon film camera. He was totally immersed.
Another thing I noticed, apart from the beautiful environment he picked to do his reading, was the fact that he wasn't listening to any music. I've grown accustomed to people wearing earphones, even if they're not listening to anything or talking to anyone.
It would seem that this man preferred the sound of the surroundings, which at that time of the day was quite calm. There was the white noise of the city in the ambiance, but mostly it was the sound of birds and water from the fountain just outside the frame.
I came across this scene when on a photo walk with the Beers&Cameras group in Shoreditch, London. Again, she was so immersed in what she was reading, that she didn't notice a group of nearly 30 people photographing her.
She did notice us in after we had made a bit of noise and literally got her attention.
Similarly to the man above, she wasn't listening to any music either. She was listening to the ambient noise which for me would have been impossible to read to.
I've always envied people who can shut out the world like this when reading. I can't do it. I get easily distracted not only by the slightest change in sound, but also visually. Something as simple as a leaf blowing by would be enough to break my concentration. Unfortunately if I must read in public, I depend on listening to some calming music with no lyrics. I can't do lyrics either :)
Another thing that is common between these two scenes, which you might have noticed, is they both blend into their environment quite nicely. I'm not sure if it was a conscious or subconscious choice, but that's clearly a thing.
In a way, they were not only able to absorb the ambiance, they became part of it. They are not disturbed by it, neither do they disturb it. Maybe I'm reading too much into it.
Anyhow, I too have a way of slowing down and getting immersed in what I love doing. It's not reading, but, photography. Especially film photography. As Teodora would testify, it took us not one but two days to finish shooting the roll. The fact that each shot was costing us money meant we had to be very selective with our choice of subject. And even then, we had to attempt to nail the shot in one try.
This lack of urgency in film photography is really quite instrumental in slowing me down and making me more observant. I have formed the habit now that even when I'm using a digital camera I have the same behaviour. That is, until I realise that I have virtually infinite shots. Only then do the bad habits start creeping back slowly.
Everything is so fast and furious these days. We do a lot with the expectation of instant gratification. It's very useful, for me anyway, to have a hobby that allows me to practice delayed gratification. The fact that I have to wait at least till the end of a roll, plus the development and printing or scanning time, introduces a delay that removes that instinctive desire for urgency. Waiting a few days, or a week at times, for the results and seeing good photos when you might not have expected them, is always very satisfying indeed.
By the way, I found out later what the lady was reading. It was "Love's Executioner" by Irvin D. Yalom.
So, do you have a way of slowing down or practice delayed gratification?
Peace and Love ✌🏿