Sometimes I like to listen to podcasts when I walk the dog (This American Life, Radio Lab, Freakonomics, Stuff You Should Know, The Moth, etc) Podcasts fill a space in my brain that I am afraid might disappear. A space of delirious curiosity. A space that, when I was little, thought there were enough hours in the day to learn everything I wanted to learn. Now that space is a little calmer. It understands that sometimes life is boring. Sometimes traffic forces you to sit behind the same hateful bumper sticker for 35 minutes and that’s okay. That has to be okay. Podcasts reignite the fire in that little space. I can wonder about the science of quicksand fear or Tylenol overdoses or historical mass murders or any number of topics my brain didn’t even know it wanted to wonder about.

But sometimes I like to walk in silence.

Having headphones in makes me feel a little vulnerable, like someone could sneak up on me. I want to hear how my neighborhood sounds. Dogs barking. Cars crunching over gravel. Footsteps over fallen leaves. A squeaky storm door. Maybe a vicious dog that has just wrenched the leash from his owners hand that is rounding the corner to snatch up my little pup. I want to hear that bastard coming.

Maybe I’ve been listening to too many podcasts about murders after all.