No matter how secular our world may be, most of us have some “sacred objects” and talismans. These are nothing special – just objects that hold meeting (or allow us to experience meaning.)
Some of mine happen to be mixtapes (OK, mix CDs). I doubt I’m alone.
You’ve made a mixtape, right? Every song choice on a mix CD or mixtape (or even a Spotify playlist) once did something to capture the sounds you loved and the emotions you felt. That makes going back and listening to these old mixtapes feel a lot like going back in time. I do it every now and then.
One of my favorite old mix CDs is a list of songs I made 3-4 years ago when I was planning to leave home and the comfort/approval of the social bubble in which I grew up. It’s got a couple Steve Earle songs, some contemplative country and folk songs – a lot of songs that expressed my angst for freedom, the road, and escape.
Here are a few:
Today I found myself listening to the same music, but this time with a different setting.
I did end up leaving home (albeit under better conditions than I expected). I left behind a way of thinking and living. I moved to a new city and started a new life. I did everything I hoped the music would help me do.
And the music on this mix CD certainly helped me think through and feel through a lot of that. I listened to it today having done (several years later) what I once would have imagined only in my best dreams.
There is something redemptive about that. And there is something psychologically healthy about revisiting songs and playlists (and therefore memories and emotions) from long ago. If photos can help us remember the appearance past events, then songs help us remember the feeling of past events.
Reliving the memory of that difficult (and exciting) time over and over again through my CD mix playlist helps me to count my blessings. I succeeded. That helps me to have courage. If I’m brave like I was then, I will be ready to choose the right thing again.
So, what’s your favorite mixtape from the past? Use it to think about how you’ve changed, for better or for worse. Check in with your emotions about your life now by stepping into the emotions (and music) of your past.