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Every morning when I get into the car I plug in the phone and scan the screen to decide what to hear on the drive to my work. I can almost hear a little gasp rising from the many apps. “Choose me!” they all seem to whisper. It must be just the way a director feels when he walks into an audition room full up with actors all wanting to be picked over the others. There is no lack of options to choose from. On any given day I have a lyceum of listing material:

Audiobooks

CME (continuing medical education) lectures

Great courses series

Music

A nonstop steady supply of podcasts

The duration of the drive varies between twenty minutes and an hour depending on traffic conditions and which star is my destination. Listening options too lengthy or in need of careful attention are glossed over in favor of shorter compositions. For this reason most of my podcast subscriptions are the types that have episodes no longer than twenty minutes. I’ve learned if I start something and traffic is bad or the trip ends sooner than the episode I don’t retain what I just heard. That’s bad if I am trying to listen to a CME lecture as there is a quiz to do afterwards. The Great Courses series are an omnibus of 12-24 lectures making it difficult for me remember what happened in the last one if there is too long an interim between listening times.

I need to get over my gluttony (or neurosis) of wanting to hear as much as a I can as it is humanely not possible to cram all these lovelies into ten commutes per week. I  am often tempted to take The Mae West advice* over revive The Thirty Years War practice of defenestration.**

In my ‘I Love Lucy’ effort to keep up with the chocolate-covered options coming my way each day I sometimes put something on for ‘background’.  But this trick never works said some sage squirrel. The only time I pull it off  is with podcasts  in which two or three people are gabbing rather than one person lecturing. Books and lectures demand I do nothing but focus. “Pay attention!” they seem to say. “I’m very important!”.***

I suppose I should send all of them packing to re-experience silence now there’s a thought!  I don’t think my brain will suffer too much for the attempt. In fact it may find peace and quiet rather nice. With delicious irony last week I heard a podcast suggesting doing just this.

no-cell-phone-sign

 

*Once upon a time Miss Mae had a radio show which was (no surprise) quite salacious. When confronted by reporters some people were outraged at the show’s contents she responded with the sensible advice “They could have turned it off”.

**Go look it up. No, I’ll wait.

***As I write this I am half-hearing an episode from “Our Fake History”. It is about Blackbeard and it sounds jolly good fun. I am going to have to turn it off and restart it as it is going in one ear and out the other.

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