When I first met the Quakers in 2006, one of the things I was drawn to was their value of simplicity. I guess this is because my life had got so full of stuff. Mental stuff, emotional stuff, and physical stuff. The value of simplicity seeks to strip away the non-essential to create space inside our hearts and houses, and this space brings clarity.
Spending a year as a backpacker, where all the things I needed were in my backpack, taught me that you really don’t need a lot of physical objects in order to be happy. But back in England there were draws, boxes and cupboards full of things, all waiting for my return.
I got rid of a lot. In the UK there are loads of charity shops where you can dump your stuff. It makes getting rid of things much easier when you know they’re going to be useful to someone else. In Thailand there is a similar service, but you just leave your stuff on the street outside your house. People drive around on improvised motorbike-sidecar-trailers at dawn and pick it up. They sort through it and then sell it on.
Sometimes it hurts. Getting rid of my guitar, which I had owned for many years and which held a lot of fond memories for me, was difficult. But I didn’t play it any more, and I had no plans to start again. So it’s gone.
And with each thing that’s gone, there’s a bit more space.
In a post last year I wrote about why I wasn’t going to pay for a streaming music subscription like Spotify. I made a list of reasons, which are still valid, but a lot of it hung on the fact that I wanted to own my music. I wanted to hold onto it for my whole life. And I didn’t want to pay money for this music if I couldn’t archive it on my computer and feel like it was truly mine. When you cancel a Spotify subscription you lose the music, and I didn’t like the thought of that.
Which is a bit funny really. I pay for mechanics to service my motorbike. I don’t own their service; I need to go back again in the future to keep it running nicely. I don’t own a haircut, but I’m happy to pay. So getting into streaming music required me to change my mindset.
Enter the 30-day free subscription, and it’s all been changed for me.
I love streaming music1. The reason I love it is because I can explore freely in a sea of music, experimenting, trying out a lot of new artists, and be free of the burden of having to download music, add it to my library, and then make a decision of whether I like it enough to buy. I can just enjoy it. And here’s the thing: I am enjoying music more now than ever before in my life.
So it’s a 180° turn for me. Subscription music is great. And it’s taken away another burden, the burden to download or buy a music collection, and to keep that collection organised. More space. More life.
- I don’t use Spotify, because they don’t offer the service in Thailand, but there’s something similar, Rdio, which does. ↩