I spend a lot of time walking. I love nature and find it especially comforting. Sometimes I listen to audio books or Ted Talks, and other times I just listen to my old reliable Spotify playlist of liked songs. There are several hundred songs I have deemed worthy of getting a “heart” like, but interestingly I find myself habitually skipping the same songs, and leaping over them to get to the other, same songs I enjoy.
A few weeks ago I was out for a long walk and I decided to try an experiment. I chose the “shuffle” function in Spotify, and committed to not fast forwarding or jumping over any songs. Then, I imagined I was from another planet (sometimes that doesn’t feel like a stretch!) and knew nothing about the music, or me, the person that was playing the songs. The goal for the “another planet” me was to have “fresh ears & eyes” relative to my playlist. I wondered what the songs, lyrics and music would communicate about me, if I’d never met myself.
(I will pause here and say, if this sounds wonky, I get it. I was explaining this experiment to some friends and they looked at me like I actually am from another planet. But I already know that, so I don’t mind. Try to open your imagination and follow along, even though this is a bit untraditional.)
So the question is, what does my playlist say about me? Is it a reflection of who I am, my core values, my interests, my preferences and my dislikes? I first learned about this concept of “fresh ears” or “fresh eyes” through the study of Buddhism. It introduced me to the idea of “first face” which I posted about last year (click here for link.)
The presumption is that we are attached to so many narratives and stories about ourselves, that we can get swept away with our own idea of who we take ourselves to be in the world. However that image may not be congruent with the way we actually show up. So one way to test this potential contradiction is to drop the narratives, memories and labels from whatever environment we are in, and show up without a pre-painted landscape of what happens next.
With the playlist example, I could easily “pretend” I’d never heard the music or the lyrics, and ask myself whether or not the songs that came on actually still belonged there. If I wasn’t attached to a memory (especially a painful one) would I even like the song anymore? What are the words that play in my head while I am walking through nature? What are the themes and the messages in my playlist of liked songs? Do they fit who I am now? Or are they remnants of a former version of me?
I am happy to report the results of my experiment which indicate that in fact, my playlist fits me like a glove. I enjoy nearly every form of music and there is quite a variety of artists and music on my liked playlist. The majority of the songs I heard resonated, and connected with “me” as I take myself to be. The ones that didn’t, received a “heart” unlike, removing them from my faves.
I continue to thin that list out on a regular basis, to make sure that what I am putting into my consciousness is actually what I want there. Closing the gap between who I think I am and how I actually show up is a major facet of my writing and healing path work. That gap was miles wide when I started waking up to my personal healing, and now although it still exists, it has gotten smaller little by little.
If you are so inspired, try the “I’m from another planet” experiment (with adequate humor, humility and curiosity) regarding any part of your life. For example, try to pause in the middle of a social engagement or meal you are sharing with someone and ask yourself: “Does this relationship actually fit? Does the presence of this person bring me Joy end energize me or does it drag me down? Do I feel better or worse when I spend time with this person?
OR: “Do I feel better or worse when I ingest a certain type of food?” We may have grown up and accepted the foods and diet we had available to us. But there are all sorts of foods available to us as adults. Are we making choices based on history? Or who we are in this moment?
You can also try this in the work environment by stepping back and asking openly: “Is this role still a good fit for me?” OR “Am I showing up in a way I can be proud of?”
Have fun with this and let our community know how it goes by leaving a comment below! if you are brave enough to take on this challenge, bring an open mind, curiosity and a sense of humor along with you, they will come in handy!