Thank you to those who helped choose my second 30-day challenge of 2018.
After spending January battling with a shopping ban, I was ready for something fun.
So I put a few options together and let the people of Twitter decide.
Option one was spending a month trying to get to grips with Japanese: I’m off there in a few months but my efforts to learn the language have so far been halting to say the least.
Option two was to rediscover the art of writing real, proper letters – with no dog-turd emojis or anything – by writing and posting one a day.
And option three was a suggestion from my wife, a musician, who said I could put on some headphones each day and really listen to one piece of music.
Just like any good race, this one was decided in the final furlong. Option two had long been in the lead (to the extent that I had already accepted the inevitable and written the first letter) but then at the final straight, option three pulled off a daring overtaking manoeuvre and clinched the title by one vote.
So two days ago I settled down to properly listen to one piece of music, with eyes closed.
I really recommend the exercise. Focusing on one sense, just for a few minutes, felt like an act of meditation.
Like many people, I struggle to focus on just one thing these days, so it was interesting to notice how many times my mind started to wander in the middle of a track or I began to itch to do something else while I listened.
But on the whole I’ve been enjoying the experience – it’s pulled me right back to my teenage years, listening to cassettes on my Walkman in the dark when I should have been asleep.
I think setting aside some time each day to choose a new song to devote a few minutes to will be a really nice habit to get into.
If anyone is interested in the tracks I’ve listened to so far, day one was Shake Em Off, a track from Syd’s album Fin (my most recent download), day two was Lights On by FKA twigs (which I found surprisingly troubling for some reason) and today I’ve just sat down in my favourite armchair to listen to Billie Holiday’s charming I Get Along Without You Very Well.
They have all been female artists so far and I think I’ll stick with the theme.
Looking through my music collection, I was struck by how many of the albums are by male musicians. It feels apt, somehow, and very ‘2018’, to take the time to really listen to some lesser-heard voices for a while.