As we travel on our journey toward a simpler and more sustainable lifestyle, we continue to discover that many of the things culture has conditioned us to want or “need” are in fact unnecessary. Often they complicate our lives and distract us from more important, more authentic things.
And yet I have no expectation of ever becoming a full-blown Luddite (in the worst sense of that word). I remember feeling something like a sense of relief when I read that Wendell Berry uses a chainsaw. And as much as I admire him, I do not intend to voluntarily give up my computer.
So let me now also confess (with some embarrassment) my affinity to a gadget. I really like my ipod.
I use it nearly every day.
Some mornings I enjoy listening to podcasts while doing my chores. Being a philomath, I find it to be a good way to learn something while working. That’s as close to multitasking as I intend to get these days, but I do find it enjoyable.
Some afternoons (unless I listened to a podcast in the morning) I listen to music. I have over 8,000 songs on the ipod (8,668 to be precise). I’ve been avidly collecting music for a long time, and now it’s easier than ever. Most of the music on the ipod came from my CD collection. But I very rarely buy CDs or downloads any more. These days I mostly add to the collection by checking out CDs or downloading songs from the library.
Things have certainly changed. Back in the day, LPs were about $15, if I recall correctly. So a large record collection had to be built up over time. Over time I amassed a pretty large collection, often buying used albums from independent record stores. Then, in the mid to late 80s, compact discs arrived. Realizing that it was the end of the road for LPs, I began transferring my collection onto cassette tapes. Once taped, I’d sell the records. Eventually I ended up with a mountain of cassettes, only to have them become obsolete as well. When we had our big yard sale, the weekend before moving from Tampa to the farm, I sold my prized Nakamichi tape deck for $5, along with a huge box of cassettes which also went for $5. In the CD world, they just had no value any more. My stereo, once a valued possession, is in a corner of the basement collecting dust. I haven’t played it in many years. We’re trying to find someone to give it to.
No doubt my ipod is destined to be a dinosaur someday too. But for now, I enjoy being able to carry around an encyclopedia, and the equivalent of 800 albums, in my pocket.