When out for a walk, I frequently put my earbuds in to listen to an audiobook or podcast. But recently I’ve been thinking about how this use of my sense of hearing affects my experience of the walk itself.

We have multiple senses and each of them brings something different to the table. Imagine watching a movie without sound, or eating an orange without smell. Each additional sense adds something to the experience.

In the past, I’ve written about how unplugging gives me time to think about what I’m learning. This is something I try to do regularly. But unplugging also gives me a chance to better experience what I’m doing. In this case, it allows the sense of hearing to contribute to what I’m experiencing with my other senses.

If I’m out for a walk, it’s simply a different experience if I have all my senses, especially my hearing, fully engaged in what I’m doing. I not only feel the wind but also hear it rustling the leaves. I not only see the trees but also hear the chorus of birds in their branches. I not only see the snow but also hear it crunch beneath my feet.

Now, I’m not completely giving up listening to audio while I’m out for a walk—at least not yet. I still find value in it at times. But like most of our attempts at multi-tasking, it does come at a cost.