I made some random comment or another on Facebook about how great I thought technology was, particularly the technological advances that have been made with music lately. It was all about how I absolutely love the way things are these days with music. All I need is an internet connection and an account with a service like Spotify to have access to pretty much any song or album I want to listen to whenever I feel like it. Add an iPod or a good SmartPhone to the mix and I'm really styling, because I can then listen to whatever I want wherever I happen to be. Best of all, there's no longer any need to collect and maintain a physical collection of records, tapes, or CDs.
I believe I also said something to the tune of not really understanding people who sit around pouting because they want things to go back to the way they were -- a world where such technologies don't exist -- because it honestly doesn't make any sense. I mean... it's not like you can't go buy physical CDs or records anymore if that's really what you want, but why would you when you can enjoy the exact same music without having to purchase, store, and care for what basically amounts to a collection of unnecessary objects? Also, why would you begrudge other people newer options that are -- nostalgia aside -- actually better and more efficient than the options we all grew up with?
I had someone get totally offended and comment on that sentiment. She passionately exclaimed that collecting "things", dusting them, organizing them, and caring for them was more or less a huge part of the whole point of building a music collection. She also stated that music that doesn't come from something you can touch and hold in your hands will never be as good as music that does, so records, tapes, 8-tracks, and the like will always be "better" than mp3's.
I actually found myself feeling bad for this person. She couldn't even tell me why she thought something as outmoded as an 8-track or a cassette tape was "better" than a high-quality mp3 that actually preserved the integrity of the music more efficiently. She simply thought that they were because they were what she grew up with... and especially because they involved owning an object that you could touch, see, and inventory. She was also really irritated by my not only feeling differently, but by being comfortable expressing that on my own Facebook page. She clearly thought that I didn't get it and had no idea how wonderful it is to have a huge collection of CDs, or tapes, or something.
The funny thing is, I used to be exactly like this same person years ago. I'm a Taurus South node, after all. One of my biggest hang-ups in life was always the accumulation of possessions and other issues related to materialism. If I didn't pay money to own my own physical copy of something, I couldn't really enjoy it. Seriously, I didn't even have a library card and wouldn't take friends up on favors to burn me copies of CDs I wanted to hear. If I wasn't going to get listen to the new Tori Amos release on my own store-bought physical CD or read the new Stephen King story from an owned copy that only I had ever touched, I preferred to go without.
It's not that I didn't truly appreciate music or literature for its own sake. It's just that at some point, owning the objects became more important to me than the enjoyment I got from the art contained within. I honestly felt like being able to sit on my couch and stare at a wall littered with CD holders that were jam-packed with hundreds of albums somehow made me more of a music lover than someone who simply listened to the radio a lot or only owned ripped copies of the same CDs. I also sneered at so-called book lovers who just spent all their time at the library. I actually bought all the books I read and had every last one of them on a shelf somewhere in my apartment, so surely that meant I was somehow more serious about reading.
You can probably imagine the extent to which that actually limited me in regards to these hobbies I can honestly say I did truly love. If I couldn't see my way clear to investing my hard-earned money in a CD, then I probably didn't listen to the album at all. Furthermore, if I didn't think an artist's catalog was worth investing in in its entirety, then the chances are equally excellent that I didn't bother to invest in the one or two CDs of theirs I did really like. Then there's just the hassle of keeping so much fucking crap organized and maintained... or trying to actually pack it all up and then unpack it again later because I had to move.
I clung to all my possessions like a lifeline though and this was despite the fact that I didn't even make use of most of them. I had a closet full of clothes I never wore, racks full of CDs I never listened to, and shelves full of books and knick-knacks that I never used or even looked at. If you were to ask me today why I think I chose to live like that, I guess I would say that I thought the things I owned were what made me worth something as a person. It's like I needed those objects to prove to myself that I was the music lover, the book lover, or the established person I wanted to believe I was. Something was clearly missing from my life and I was just as clearly looking for it in the things I collected... but I didn't really know that.
Then I actually made some real improvements in my life. I met someone and I fell in love for what I am starting to think was the first time in my life. I got out of my loveless marriage and began a serious relationship with the man I loved instead. I made friends who actually cared about me and valued me for who I was instead of what I looked like or how good I could make them look to others. I found things to do with my time and for a living that didn't make me feel like a worthless waste of space. It was amazing how quickly the need to collect objects went away once those changes had taken root.
Starting a new life, a new relationship, and a new existence required me to move 3000 miles away from all my precious "things" though -- something that was actually very painful at the time -- so once I was settled, I was faced with a decision. I could either rebuild my collections or I could try something new. I opted for the something new. Instead of building my physical CD collection back up, I bought an iPod and started filling it with albums I downloaded for free off the internet... whatever struck my fancy and that I wanted to try, not just what I considered worth investing in as far as my precious collection went. If I tried something and didn't really care for it, I just deleted it and tried something else. Nothing lost in the process but a little bit of my time! I wound up quadrupling the list of bands I loved pretty quickly as a result -- more music to love, enjoy, and make memories with -- and I got more eclectic and adventurous as far as my overall tastes.
I got a library card so I could read whatever I wanted -- including all the new releases I heard people talking about -- and I discovered the joys of public domain ebooks to boot. I discovered that a lot of the classic authors I'd always loved -- like Edith Wharton, Oscar Wilde, and Nathaniel Hawthorne -- had actually written many more books than I'd ever seen stocked in the book stores before. (The free public domain libraries had them available while the bookstores normally didn't. Bookstores only stock the most popular works in a given author's catalog as a rule.) Man... my whole world just opened right up and it hasn't been the same since.
I no longer feel that desire to hold an object in my hands in order to enjoy art like music or literature. Instead, I've embraced the absolute freedom downsizing has given me. I spend way, way less on entertainment than I used to. However, I'm actually enjoying more of it than I ever have before. I actually check out albums, movies, or books on a whim now the way a self-proclaimed free spirit should do and I discover some awesome things in the process. I carry music with me everywhere on my SmartPhone and iPod, allowing it to enhance every experience I have whether that's going for an evening walk to the grocery store or sitting out on the front porch enjoying a glass of wine with my fiancé. Instead of getting pleasure from wrongly feeling like I somehow own the music I listen to all to myself, I get it from feeling like I'm part of this whole universe saturated with music that everyone else is part of, too. That's a lovely feeling, really.
However, it's just that its so easy to allow them to define us and -- eventually -- weigh us down, preventing us from moving forward and realizing our true soul purpose. When we're talking about objects that can easily become numerous and take up a lot of space, this can happen quite literally. In the end, it's a decision each person has to make for themselves. Do they want to be heavy... or do they want to be able to travel light and be free? The choice is up to them.