Think about your playlist. Not the one that you listen to on the train, at the gym, or in the car, but the one in your mind. Does your mental playlist excite and inspire you or leave you feeling tired and even depressed? Although it takes some time and research to create a new soundtrack that is more pleasing to listen to, the old one needs to be taken off loop, stopped, and ejected.
Life creates a series of memories that resemble songs; sometimes you have those beautiful melodies that make you want to get up and dance, empower you for great things, and bring you back to a better time. There are other ones that instead replay a cacophony of dread, embarrassment, fear, and insecurity, which brings you back to someplace that you’d rather not be. The way you choose which Spotify channel or shuffle you want to listen to with ease, you can actually do the same within your own private “library” of thoughts.
When I was fifteen, I spent much time making mix-tapes in bedroom by recording songs off the radio or from CDs. These tapes would come with me everywhere—either contained in my walkman, in a friend’s car, or would be exchanged as a gift. In turn, I would have the curiosity to hear what someone else decided to choose for me. The idea of making a mix-tape was so personal, as each song had to be carefully selected in order and the mood had to be consistent. I would play a certain song over and over again, but frankly there was no need for the other 20. It was a form of expression, a shared creative experience with my peers, and a new discovery. Mix-tapes also held memories of certain events and rites of passage. But by the time I turned 18, CDs and the radio were the norm. Fast forward a few years later and Napster reigned supreme (despite all of the legal issues), followed by iTunes and our contemporary music devices, sharing, and streams.
The point is this. I out grew my mix-tapes and by the time I moved out of my parents’ home at 18 ½ years old, I threw them all away. Although at one point I was so incredibly attached to them, they no longer served a purpose. Before I knew it, by 21 years old, one Saturday afternoon I did the same with my CD collection. Another overhaul. From that point forward, with careful selection, everything that I want to listen to is stored and catalogued on my computer and iPhone. I do the same with my mental playlist. If there is something that I feel compelled to listen to or replay a few times, I do. I honor my need or desire at that given time. But when it’s overplayed and the “lyrics” get jumbled to the point of confusion, the novelty wears off.
If we choose, we can learn how to get used to silence—the silence of our minds. By re-playing our life’s playlist on loop one too many times, it can become unbearable to hear. Frustration, sadness, and anger no longer have to be placed at the top of our “most listened”. There comes a point when the pain is just too much and the only thing left to do is release it and let it go. This happens when we are ready to confront what it is that is bothering us and sort through each “mix-tape” one by one. It’s up to us to discard or only keep the ones that we feel are important to still have in our possession for whatever reason. But the beauty of it all is that we get to control what it is or what we don’t want to listen to at the end of the day. We get to choose our new playlist—the one that is the score to our life’s movie that we are living in the present and creating for the future.