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Look Out at the World

“The eyes look out at the world, not under it, down at it or away from it. So look squarely ahead…” writes British vocal expert Patsy Rodenburg as part of a warm up exercise in her book The Right to Speak. She calls it “centring” – part of a very important series of mind, body and voice alignments for the speaker, and one that I use frequently with speaking students.

“Look out at the world,” – an important habit not only for the speaker but also for the human being, and it strikes me how less and less we look out at the world today. Some recent observations…

  • Walking my dog on a Saturday morning, I observed not one, not two, but three young fathers out with the baby in the stroller; the baby is laughing, pointing and looking ahead, yet the father doesn’t notice; he’s talking or texting on his phone.
  • Waiting in my car in Chicago’s busy downtown loop to pick up a passenger, I counted that four out of five pedestrians who passed were connected to something electronic either in their ears or at their ear – blank looks on their faces, oblivious to the world around them.
  • Walking among a myriad of travelers at O’Hare airport – most looking down while discussing something on their cell phones, I wonder how they find their gates!

In refreshing contrast, I offer the old Polish and Russian couples and groups of friends who walk along the sidewalk paths of Lake Michigan together on summer mornings. All they do is talk, with hands clasped behind them, looking out at the world every day. Their faces are animated – always.

A thought for us all: Are we “centered” with what’s around us when we walk? Have we tried unplugging and looking out at the world every day?

  1. Avatar
    Lori Klinka

    I agree. Take time to smell the roses! This summer there seem to be more beautiful flowers than ever before!
    I think “what in the world are all these people texting about anyway? Did they talk this much 5 years ago without texting?”

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    Brett Grendahl

    This is a challenge for us all in modern society Cyndi. You know how I love technology but I also try to counter that by spending time on what you point out. I think back to when I was one of the first ones using a Blackberry. That thing sure got addicting!

    Eventually I had to disengage and unplug. It felt so refreshing.

    These days, one of the ways I act on what you point out here is to take a moment to take my shoes off and walk in the grass. It is amazing how just a few minutes doing that can slow you down for a bit.

    Hope all is well!

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    Joey Watt

    And now my kids can do Facebook and everything on the internet on their cellphones. Let me get back to you – I have a call coming in.

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    Anne Klamar

    It’s so true and so sad that we (many of us) are missing so much of life. Every moment, every color, every human connection is a miracle in its own way. We just need to not only see, but “see” how lucky we are every day. Thanks for the gentle reminder!

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    Agreed, especially about the folks pushing or walking their children.

    I see this at the store all the time, too — a parent has his or her kid in the cart, and the whole time they shop, the parent is yapping away on the cell phone — and ignoring their child. This is just awful. When you do this, you’re not present with your child, and think about what message that sends to that little person: you’re not important enough for me to pay attention to right now. They may be babies, but believe me, they’re not stupid. Especially when this selfish behavior continues into toddler years.

    And anyone who texts or cell-talks while driving needs to have their license revoked!

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    Couldn’t be more true.

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    Spot on! We are too busy to be actively engaged as a participant in the world surrounding us. Cyndi, you have captured it well

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    Jerilyn Willin

    What is it with the “now” that so many of us have to be somewhere else? Yes, I wear an iPod when I exercise but only in one ear because sometimes the conversations of the birds are more compelling than the latest novel on CD!

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    Steve Harker

    Very insightful about today’s human condition!

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    Lynn Hazan

    I totally agree. I hear enough noise in the city as it is. This time of year is totally delightful to hear the birds. They give free concerts and delight us with their gifts. Have a listen!

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    In this world of nearly miraculous electronic communications and connection, it is imperative that we look out and not lose sight of the inspirational and truly miraculous human connection.

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    Vince Keenan

    Good one Cyndi!

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