Zia Hassan

Awareness In A Theater

The other night, I had the pleasure of seeing one of my best friends on stage on at the Kennedy Center. The show he was in was a really interesting piece, full of wonder and introspection.

During some of the more abstract moments, I found myself becoming aware, like I would in sitting meditation. All senses just scanning the dark room, directing my attention to each one: the faint stream of air from the conditioner, the stage lights creating a mist in the air…

And then I started tuning in to the sounds of the theater. Not just the music on stage but what was being “played” all around me. In a John Cage way, I started hearing the audience themselves. Rustling in their purses, chewing on a piece of gum, coughing, sighing, squeaking as they shifted in their chairs.

Has all this noise been here the whole time?

It had, and my brain was filtering it out like sand through a comb. It’d be hard to enjoy a show in that state, so I quickly redirected my attention to the stage.

But in that moment, I noticed how easily awareness can come. I flipped a switch, and there it was, in a crowded theater audience, who were intently wrapped in a musical.

The number of entry points to awareness never fail to amaze me.