It’s funny the route your thoughts sometimes take; when thinking about one thing you can have a realisation about something else.
I realised today that my life had actually improved since losing my iPod.
“You know what?” I thought, “I actually appreciate travelling more now.” I can hear the sounds of the everyday, my footsteps, birds, trains rattling by, and I genuinely appreciate them.
I realised that I had been using my iPod as background noise, which not only dulled the world around me, but dulled my love for music itself.
I lost my iPod whilst travelling to see Sheffield Wednesday beat Notts County at the formerly mighty Hillsborough and felt like crying when I found out. A good day totally, totally ruined.
But no, two months later, whenever I do listen to music I find myself thinking, “This is amazing!”, and appreciating things that I wouldn’t usually listen to. Listening to The Verlaines superlative song “CD, Jimmy Jazz and me” last night I realised how badly I wanted to listen to the rest of their back catalogue (which I had recently acquired).
But, alas, I could not, having only a limited time every day to listen to music. If only I had my iPod! I could listen to them on my seemingly never ending journeys to primary schools in West Yorkshire.
And that’s when it struck me. It was the desire for the music that was the truly improtant thing. When I had my whole music collection at my fingertips I would often find myself flipping listlessly from song to song, never settling on anything for more than a minute or two, and nothing satisfying me. and now I couldn’t listen to anything and I desperately wanted to.
Thoughts returned to me that I hadn’t had for years. What would the world be worth if everything was instaneous and at our fingertips? If we never had to leave a room because everything was there in the blink of an eye? It might seem that the world’s going, and for those of us have to spend a lot of time commuting, it actually might seem like a dream.
But I was reminded of a short story, possibly by Kurt Vonnegut, possibly not, based on H.G. Wells’ “The Time Machine”, about a someone who travels to the future and encounters a man who wears a suit that does everything for them. The man explains that there is no need for them to have any possessions or do anything as the suit does it for them. They had no need to read or see the world as they have all the knowledge they needed grafted onto their brains at birth. The time traveller then goes back to his own time and vows never to come to the future.
Whilst I am feeling, and even disliking, the yearning for experience I realised it opened up other things in me. Trees suddenly seemed more beautiful; maybe because it was Autumn and a sunny day, maybe because I was actually looking at them.
I also thought of a Brave New World, in which everyone must be made to feel satisfied but never excited or wanting more.
In some ways I feel for children who get every thing they want. In fact I feel for anyone who gets everything they want. It seems to dull the senses and kill appetites. And yet, I still plan to get another iPod as soon as I can get one. Ah, the problems of being alive!
I also thought, strangely, of Jonathan Ross, who seemed to encapsulate how powerful desire for something can be, especially when you’re a child, in a televised interview concerning when he and his brother used to talk endlessly at night about how they wanted a portable travel fan they saw in the back of a magazine. A prosaic memory perhaps, but one that is much more fulfilling and thought of than when he actually got said fan.
As The Wednesday Club so memorably sang, “It’s not a requirement to dream but it helps.”
John, November 11