When Life is Like an iPod

Posted: 22 September 2011

As I write this I am sitting on a train and the girl next to me is listening to her iPod. She is flicking through her playlist to find a song that she likes, however it seems that just because she starts a song does not mean she will finish it. Some songs get ten seconds of play time, some get a minute, but it seems she is not satisfied with the level of enjoyment she is receiving from her playlist (which I assume is made up of songs she herself selected).

This inability to be satisfied is not limited to this young lady, nor is it limited to iPods. This is an age which has a general inability to commit, but perhaps more to the point; this is an age that must be continually entertained.

Commercial radio believes that any piece of music needs to be three minutes or less for fear that we will not ‘commit’ to the song; one day cricket is becoming increasingly popular at the expense of test matches which require several days of investment; the TV remote control reminds us that there might always be something better on the next channel. The problem is that when the highest value in one’s life is immediate gratification, we lose the ability to persevere. After all, why spend the afternoon cooking over a hot stove when we can simply reheat a frozen meal in the microwave? Life, however, is not a microwave, nor is it an iPod or a remote control. Life will not always entertain. There will be times that are joyous and there will be times that are difficult. Life will not always give, so that we can simply lie back and receive.

If we have an inability to look at the bigger picture of life and understand the overall good, then every inconvenience, every suffering, every second listening to a song we do not like, become moments to be avoided at all costs.

Now, of course, this is not to say we must delight in everything we do, but we do need to have an awareness of when we are becoming too quick to ‘change songs’. Life is full of ups and downs, they cannot be avoided.

What happens, for example, when two people who are always used to ‘changing the channel’ get married? What will happen when the inevitable trials of life come upon them? Will they have the ability to see the greater good and sacrifice immediate self-gratification for the greater good of the other person or the relationship as a whole?

Once we have become serial ‘channel changers’ we find that nothing satisfies. There may always be something better; there may always be more fun to be had elsewhere.
Real and lasting joy, however, can only come through perseverance and commitment to the task and duties before us.

Would Sir Edmund Hillary have reached the top of Mt Everest and been able to appreciate its views if he was seeking immediate pleasure every step of the way?

So go on … think about getting yourself in training. Go for a long walk in the mountains; bake a cake from scratch; listen to an entire symphony. Experience the fullness of the beauty in the world around us. And most importantly; stop flicking though the songs on your iPod!