What’s holding you back?

CD player

A few weeks ago, a friend said something that made a difference to my life.

It wasn’t profound. It didn’t need to be made into a meme and shared on social media.

My friend simply identified my (faulty) thought process and corrected it. For her, it was a comment made in passing. But for me, it was a small “aha” moment.

An embarrassing story about music

To explain my “aha” moment to you, I have to share an embarrassing story. Not PG movie rating embarrassing. Just “I look like an idiot” embarrassing.

I am not a “music” person. Don’t get me wrong: I like music. All humans do. When we listen to music, our brains release dopamine, which makes us happy. I listen to music when I exercise, I play the radio in the car.

But I don’t listen to music as much as many other people. I have a very low noise-tolerance level. I prefer to work in silence. My favourite way to relax is to read, which I also prefer to do in silence. I seldom just sit and listen to music. 

I am also of an age that means my music collection is a set of CDs. Which is a problem, because the only CD player I still have is in the car. So over time, I’ve listened to less and less music at home. When I’ve thought about this, it’s been along the lines of “I should set up a way to play more music”. But I didn’t do anything until lockdown.

During lockdown, of course, I couldn’t go to the exercise studio where I am a member. So I had to exercise at home. I have an old iPod with a rather nice set of speakers, and I use that when I exercise. But my iPod has a limited selection of songs that I loaded many years ago.

I started to get really tired of those songs. And then I realised that I didn’t know how to address my music issue. I had no way to play my own CDs. I’d never tried Apple Music or Google Play Music or Spotify or any of the other apps. I remembered the effort in the past of setting up a playlist. I had to know the name of the song and the artist and then find the song. It seemed like too much work, so I played the same songs for the umpteenth time when I exercised.

At this stage, you are probably astounded at my ignorance. Take a trip on the Gautrain – almost everyone has earphones plugged in to their cell phone to listen to music. How difficult can it be?

Then I had lunch with my friend – outside, with masks and plenty of social distance. She’s my age, doesn’t work in technology, but loves music. I mentioned my lack of music. She knew the problem before I admitted it. The playlist. She told me to stop thinking that I need to look for songs I like. The app will find them for me.

So I downloaded Spotify. It’s that easy. And I’ve loved hearing songs that I’d forgotten, as well as new songs that the app chose for me. 

What’s the lesson?

For me, the lesson is that sometimes it is the little things that hold us back. Things that we might not realise are little. In my case, it was the idea of having to search for and find music I liked. It was actually a non-issue, but it was still stopping me.

When we discover how small that thing is, our lives take a step forward.

And there’s another lesson. If you don’t share your problems with others, you’ll never benefit from their experience. They won’t always have an answer, but sometimes the answer might add music to your life.

A quick disclaimer

I’m not promoting Spotify, or any other music app.

Technology is awesome. It’s also relentless. So I now need to find a 32-pin bluetooth gizmo so that I can connect my phone to my iPod speakers, because I can’t install Spotify on my outdated iPod.

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