Life and the Playlist

 I was out for a walk the other day, my old, uncool headphones clapped over my ears, (I can’t wear earbuds anymore – they cause wax buildup) when I had a revelation. There is plenty of rhyme and rhythm in my music playlist, but not much order. 

Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven is followed by I Could Have Danced All Night from My Fair Lady, then a few songs from One Direction, Damien Rice, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, the Beatles, and Justin Bieber and The Weekend. Then there’s a hymn by an African children’s choir and two Christmas carols, because I can’t always see what I’m doing when compiling these lists. I love musicals, so a few from Les Miserable are followed by Gordon Lightfoot’s The Way I Feel, and then some from Leonard Cohen, but only the gloomy stuff because like him, at times I want it darker. 

When I was young, I liked listening to the whole album. Getting a feel for the theme, and appreciating the artistry of the collection. Now, I’m more like a jumpy addict who can’t hang on to a thought long enough to appreciate it. And I’m starting to feel that this has always been my way. I listened to whole albums only because they came on a record, a tape or a CD, and that’s how they were played.

There’s a small segment of the population who spend the day doing stuff in the right order and remembering things. I am not one of them. The cell phone I was searching for was in my back pocket. I wasn’t in the fridge to grab a snack but to clean it out. I went downstairs to do laundry, not organize my bookshelf. I’d like to blame Covid for part of this, but I’m fairly certain its a life long condition. As I write this, my soup is bubbling on the stove. If not for the sound, it could heat for hours until the fire alarm went off. 

It’s not so much, to use the Latin term, Lackus Brainyitis as it is Lackus Focus. (Okay the last one definitely doesn’t work. There’s got to be a better fake Latin phrase.)  I’ve written this in my usual self exploratory fashion and realized that thinking and doing one logical thing after the next is boring to my brain. It’s not fun. My brain is like a teenager, longing for new experiences and hating to be told what to do. “You’re not the boss of me,” it says whenever I speak aloud and try to give it instructions.

The only thing that can rein in that badly behaved, often sulky and dysfunctional organ is another organ – my heart. When my brain and I are in a fight (Clean up! No! Do it now!) then my heart jumps in with some calming words. “Go for a walk. Call a friend. Forgive yourself the occasional lack of follow through. Forgive yourself for not writing more. Give yourself permission to be sad about the state of the world, especially under the pandemic, and then read something funny. Listen to CBC, which always makes you feel good. Strangely, my heart never sounds condescending like my brain does. My heart is a wise old person and my brain is a dick.

I feel better having written this out. And now, if there’s any soup left in the pot, I will have lunch. And then I will write. Though my brain has said this blog doesn’t count, my heart disagrees. But I can hear my latest novel’s protagonist screaming at me from my office and I’m fairly certain she’s in trouble. Since she listens to my heart and not my brain, I will go rescue her now. First, I’ll just do one more thing…

Published by Judith Pettersen

Judith Pettersen is an author living in Canada. She blogs about her life in the north and the ups and downs of being a writer.

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