What I have learned from my 40-day iPod abstinence

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There is always that one thing that you would really want that you would be ready to give up something you cannot live without. At 6, maybe you’ve traded your best Barbie doll for a Polly Pocket; at 16, it may be leaving your hometown to enter your dream university; at 20, risking anything to get that dream job. This is what I learned after I gave up my iPod for 40 days for that one thing.

You might think that this would not be much of a sacrifice for a normal person, but in that case, I am far from normal. I value music more than I value texting. I get the need to throw up every time I travel without a headset. I can’t focus on work without music. Music is my pacifier and my iPod is my security blanket. It has even come to the point that I have to balance my internship, traveling back and forth to Bulacan, and a part-time job just so I can purchase an iPod.

But then again, there is that one thing that I would be more than willing to sacrifice that iPod for.

Setting the Rules
The best sacrifices are the ones that hurt. Like what King David said in 2 Samuel 24:24, I would not offer the Lord sacrifices that cost me nothing. On June 1, 2011, after being convicted by the words said by Aaron, I set rules upon myself that at first look seemed impossible to accomplish:

(1) Do not use the music function of the iPod.
(2) Not being grounded from using the video function of the iPod does not mean you can watch music videos for a music fix. You can’t.
(3) The iPod can only be used for notes and the applications installed in it.
(4) Your headset is only good for watching movies from your laptop. No listening to music from your laptop.
(5) No YouTube as alternative for a music fix.
(6) No Radio as alternative for a music fix.

Yes, it was hard. It was even harder than when I lost my first iPod because I had the radio and my PC as substitute back then. But this time I tried to cut off all possible connections between me and music.

The First Week
Getting the first week done wasn’t as hard as it seemed for me. I was still unemployed during the first week of the 40-day iPod abstinence, so I had all the time to do other things aside from sound tripping. I finished watching How I met Your Mother Seasons 2 and 3 and watched a lot of movies instead. I wrote a lot of letters and prayed that this newly-started challenge for myself will be successful.

Mid-Challenge
I have learned that what they say is true; you would never know what you’ve got until it’s gone. I work—work!—without music to calm me down when I feel agitated. I traveled the busy streets of Metro Manila and battled waiting hours during traffic jams without music to comfort me. Add to that the jeepney driver’s radio that doesn’t really help—they were always playing jeje songs that I would never learn to love. It was the first time I got a Last Song Syndrome from a radio station jingle. It was excruciating.

I have also realized the power of music that I tend to ignore before. Sometimes music loses its effect when it comes from my iPod because I can just skip it whenever I want to, but not when a replica of my playlist comes from the bus driver’s boom box. The feeling of joy upon realizing that a bus driver can listen to such cool songs, and the feeling of sadness upon hearing the intro of “I Miss You” made me cry (yes, I’m on a public vehicle). It was epic.

I have also realized one more thing: maybe the reason why our ears cannot be shut is for us to appreciate things even when our eyes are closed.

Final Stretch
There are a lot of things that you can appreciate more without a headset that interferes. Like the rooster that wakes me up in the morning, a joke, or the ding-dong of the elevator that signifies that I have already arrived at my destination. I have also realized that sometimes, silence is so much better than music. Silence can trigger a lot of emotions and realizations more than a song can. Silence can even make you cry—I did, a lot of times.

But it all arrives to one big realization, and here’s mine: I did the 40-day iPod abstinence because I know God is able to do things I can’t; and this is my way of telling God that I’m willing to sacrifice for a single move of His mighty hand. I know this is not much compared to what others do, but I sure felt the pain that came along with this.

Yes, because in this life, there is always that one thing—or person that is far more important than the music I’ve always loved.

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