“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?