There are so many venues for talking these days, what's the point of trying to listen? We can post our every trivial thought on a thousand websites that reach a billion people instantly. I know people with full-time jobs who post so much on Facebook and Twitter, I marvel that they do any work -- unless of course their bosses are doing the same.
What if Dr. Townes, instead of taking that timeout, had sent a text or played Angry Birds? Might we be in the dark about the laser? As research and Townes' example suggest, the unpredictable sparks of our own mental machinations should be something we don't want to miss any more than the majestic sight of a passing whale.
I'm writing five handwritten pen and ink letters to people each month for 12 months and see what comes of it. No typing as I somehow feel that would be cheating. And definitely no cards. Flat paper stationary and ink pens held with fingers. I want to remember what it's like talking to someone directly on paper with a pen in my hand.