Sustainable Listening

I take the album from its paper sleeve which I had pulled from the cardboard sleeve in which it rested. The vinyl is forty-seven years old. I set it on the platter, switch the turntable on, and brush it. The amp hums. I swing the tonearm over the record and lower the lever. (My fingers were never steady enough to lower the needle on their own and now I'm even less steady.) Crackles pop in the speakers, then Neil Young sings about packing it in, buying a pick-up, and taking it down to L.A.

Across the room I sit at an HP laptop reading work emails going back and forth between a couple of the directors. I signed onto the job thinking I'd just write grants, but it has turned into something more interesting because I want it that way and the people who hired me encourage such things. It's a sweet thing. About as sweet as Neil's voice out on the weekend.

My daughter is teaching me about sustainability. Because of her I've committed to never drinking out of a single-use water bottle again. Small steps.

Records are sustainable. I can feel it. The paper sleeve. The brushing. The crackles and pops. Sure, vinyl is pretty nasty petroleum stuff, but it's forty-seven years old and I'll keep it the rest of my days (having learned the mistake of ditching the albums from my childhood).

The job feels sustainable too. My old one was like sitting in a running car in a closed garage. I wrote a note this morning to an old colleagues. I keep wanting to break a window, open the door, something before he suffocates. That's how it was with me. And the effects of that linger. That place was poison to me. I'm only now just beginning to recover.

Over coffee I read Neil Young's Lonely Quest To Save Music and his idea that the compressed digital music is doing something bad to our brains, kind of like the mind-suck of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and whatever else feels necessary but disconnects us. That ain't sustainable either.

The record's almost over. Even that can't go on and on. But there's the other side and there's another record and another after that. Just the feel of the record, the act of putting it on, and the restorative sound flowing across the room, yeah, it's enough to sustain me. It all feels so good.