In the 2007 movie, Live Free or Die Hard, Bruce Willis’s character is asked how long it’s been since the music he listens to could have been considered contemporary. It’s a jab at the character’s age, of course, but I can relate to the question.
Though I’m now in my thirties, I still tend to want to listen to artists from my adolescence much of the time. For me, that’s angsty ‘90s alt. rock, glum folksy tunes, rap…
As I get older, I find myself wishing to broaden my musical horizons. I can no longer connect to the careless negativity or ironic detachment captured and conveyed in much of the art from the time of my teen years.
How does music relate to facing addiction?
Well, here’s something I once wrote while high:
“I really liked Pandora back in 2010. Every time I made a new playlist, it felt like I was getting a little closer to the exact music I wanted to hear.
“I was discovering all these ambient electronic artists on Pandora, and then listening through their catalogues on YouTube and elsewhere. It was great music for studying and working.
“But why did I stop listening to that music when I got addicted to medical weed?
“It was like I slipped or retreated back to only listening to music from when I was a teenager again.”
Music is a good example of something I’ve used to act dumber than I actually am for immature reasons.
Not long ago, this became my nightly pattern: I’d sit down to work on a project; but instead of finding tunes that might actually help me relax and concentrate, I’d sabotage myself by blaring the tired soundtrack of my youth. Then I’d cycle through all the same concerts, interviews, and albums on YouTube until the wee hours of the morning.
It felt like selective, compounded stupidity: neglecting much needed rest to hold even faster to something I could no longer really enjoy the same way, anyway.
That sure sounds like immaturity and lack of perspective to me.
And it wasn’t like I was getting any younger…
Anyway, staying up all night in my thirties to re-listen to well-worn glimmers from my glory days would affect my state and attitude at work during day, as well. Unable to concentrate, I’d rely on energy drinks and other chemical stimulation to keep myself going.
That led to upping my weed intake just to balance myself out.
One day, I was feeling especially stressed at work. Blaming everyone there except myself, I’d essentially been pitting energy drinks against weed and lack of sleep (every day) for months.
Is blame-shifting and refusing to take responsibility not more direct evidence of immaturity?
I wrote this that day (while high):
“I saw myself starting to paint this negative picture again of how things are at work.
“But then I knew that I knew better.”
A few days later, I wrote this (again, while high at work):
“I just don’t want any of the negativity anymore.
“I don’t want the cuss-outs, and the punishing with anger, and the silent misery of unresolved conflict . . . all of which so clearly need not be.
“I do see that people are more positive with me when I’m more positive with them, overall.
“Does it really all come down to making a simple choice to grow up and make better decisions?
“I want to be able to truly relax.”
That night, I found myself repulsed by the ‘90s artists I’d usually fall back to. I even tried picking one out of habit, but I believe the process I’m attempting to show had already gone into effect. I could no longer comfortably do the immature thing. The results of my actions had become too obvious to me. My perspective had changed.
I just really, really didn’t want to anymore…
After a few puffs of weed, I ended up at this YouTube channel, which features hours of relaxing spa music. As my high mind was touched by the peaceful, beautiful sounds, I remember smiling, sitting very still, and just feeling extremely relaxed for the first time in as long as I could remember.
In an odd way, it felt like I had actually caught up to my own age.
I went on to write this (yes, still high):
“This is so much better.
“Where does the tendency to seek out chaos and violence come from?
“This music calms me. It helps me relax.
“Do I resist making mature decisions about what to listen to because of some sentimental attachment to ‘90s music?
“Is it just because it’s easier and more comfortable to go with what I know?
“Is it the culture we live in—where society is basically a magnified version of high school, and everyone these days seems caught in adolescence in a way?
“Even some of the musicians I’ve been listening to since back in the day are perfect examples of that dynamic: To maintain mainstream success in the current industry, they feel (or are told) that they must continue to look, act, and sound as close to how they did when they were first successful as possible.
“Though the rest of us probably don’t face exactly the same outward pressures to never change, we should all be careful of that same basic motivation and tendency.
“Not growing is, of course, a lot easier.
“This relaxing music is not as entertaining. It doesn’t demand attention.
“Perhaps as we grow, our desires can quiet from a constant need for stimulation or fulfillment to…
“As we grow, we might see the role of . . . let’s call it silence . . . a little more.
“Imagine being able to just sit with your desires—to no longer demand any kind of stimulation at all.
“You can’t do it until you can see it, which is why this story is really all about maturity and perspective instead of memorizing some new method to then go out and abruptly fail.”
Do you ever feel stuck in the culture or mindset of your adolescence?
Tomorrow: The next step is revealed once you know you’re ready to take it.