You got to hold on

call me maybeOut of my ten or so 2013 New Year’s resolutions, only one has been doable. I have turned off the radio.

At first, it was a struggle. Top 40 pop music is not challenging. Each saccharine-sweet song follows a predictable pattern and ends within three minutes. Some songs may be catchier than others, but none are truly remarkable. It’s easy.

Silence and good music aren’t. Each forces the listener to confront parts of his or her life that are easily overlooked when overlaid with silly lyrics and a pounding beat. After three or four days of complete silence on my morning drive, I was more refreshed and slightly less grumpy. The drives between tutoring sessions became opportunities for reviving my energy level, not trying to keep it artificially elevated with coffee and radio programs laced with celebrity gossip.

As a music writer, finding and tracking new artists keeps your writing fresh and your friends and readers excited. Turning off the radio gave me the chance to look up bands that friends had suggested, like The Lone Bellow, or were promoting, like St. Paul and the Broken Bones. Once I started looking, I began rediscovering amazingly talented local groups and friends of friends.

On one particularly stressful afternoon, I turned to one of my Spotify playlists. Though I was stuck in traffic and already 30 minutes late for an appointment, I started to relax. By the end of the third song, I almost felt like I was sipping pinot noir in a warm bath, not zooming around from job to job.

Each day, each of us chooses what to consume. For me, music is sustenance for my spirit just as food sustains my body. Choosing quality here is necessary to my happiness, and has allowed me some space that is distinctly mine. So far, it has freed up time outside the car for me to begin to work on other resolutions that have been so easy to break. Next up, exercise.

Today’s title comes from The Alabama Shakes‘ “Hold On.”

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