Culture | Habits | Music | Personal Growth | Philosophy

Knowing the Songs

I can see, it took so long just to realize
I’m much too strong not to compromise
Now I see what I am is holding me down
I’ll turn it around
Oh, yes, I will
— Boston, Don’t Look Back

When you go to a concert to see a band play, are you looking for new or familiar? Go to an Eagles or Paul McCartney concert and it’s a greatest hits collection where you know every song and everyone around you does too. It becomes a sing-along festival. Tasty, but not exactly pushing your boundaries.

Think about the last time you went to see an up and coming band with all the buzz and you didn’t know any of their songs at all, but want to see what all the fuss is about. That was a voyage of discovery, one that carried you to places exciting and new. You knew you were going to know those songs soon enough when that band broke like a wave over the airwaves.

That band that you’ve known for years knows the score. They want to play you the new stuff, because that’s what excites them the most. But they know people pay to see the songs they love performed live. So they layer in the new with the old, hoping the ratio is just right to keep the crowd from going flat.

We humans play our own greatest hits in our head. We tell ourselves we’re going to change but stick with the same soundtrack we had on yesterday and the day before. Maybe we have a circle of fans around us that only want to hear our greatest hits and feel uncomfortable when we start to change. It’s easy to get trapped in that old soundtrack.

The trick to turning things around is to layer in the new songs. Change a small habit, then another. Learn something new today and stretch even further tomorrow. Pretty soon you’ll find that you don’t look back so much anymore because you’re so busy becoming what you want to be next. We might even find that our best fans enthusiastically go along for the ride, changing with us.

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