I felt so clever, running over hill and dale, carrying my cassette player carefully in one hand, puffy headphones placed neatly over my ears as I listened to my favorite tunes on a mix tape of my own creation. Exercise was so much more pleasant with music to distract me. The toll for this joy was exacted through double A batteries and the number of times I had to retrieve a mass of tangled tape from the spindles inside a machine that was just barely designed for such a purpose.
That is why I eventually moved from one machine to the next, each one promising to be more shock proof than the one before it. It was, as I came to understand, a battle against physics. All those moving parts were not suited to align with my moving parts over prolonged periods. I turned to the next logical alternative: radio. This was a much lighter and convenient method of moving my music along with me, and the addition of headphones that acted as an FM antennae made it possible for me to hear just about whatever I wanted to, as long as I kept my head tilted to this side or that. Until the commercials came.
My first mp3 player was about the same size as a cassette Walkman, and I found that even though I could cram more than six hours of music into its memory, it suffered some of the same challenges that those first tape players endured. It had to be carried just so, and though I never had to pry any tape from its jaws. But I did have to reinstall software more than once, and updating my playlist was quite a project. When I allowed myself to step up to the world of iPod, I was finally able to experience relatively carefree tunage as I went out in the street or into the back yard.
Until that one that threatened to burst into flames. To their everlasting credit, Apple sent me a nice note to let me know that the machine I was using to facilitate my good health might work against that purpose by overheating and causing a nasty burn or worse. That's about the time I remembered the wisdom of my therapist, who encouraged me to be more in the world by listening to the world around me, even when I had nothing to say. Especially when I had nothing to say.
I tried that, for a while. I ran without anything sticking in my ears. I heard a lot of traffic. I heard some birds. But not once did I hear Bruce Springsteen. That's why I accepted Apple's kind offer to replace the dangerous machine with one that promised not to harm me. And to keep safe from the sound of silence.