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Brainwashed by a bad beat


If we allow ourselves to get used to things that repeat – especially things that should cause us alarm – is that healthy, asks Lance Fredericks.

File picture: Pixabay

SO LAST week I wasn’t prepared to go into any details about what kinds of music make me cringe.

Remember? I wrote: “I do find though that there are types of music that make me twitchy – I won’t go into any detail and single out genres … but I have fled stores at the mall that were piping what I considered obnoxious tunes through their loudspeakers.”

So … what kinds of music make me twitch? I’ll tell you … music that repeats a phrase, slogan or riff too often. Music that demands that I move when I don’t want to.

No one would probably believe this, but as I am writing this, one such song is playing on my streaming service … it’s a pure disco dance number. And it’s in a disco that it works perfectly fine. Not when I am writing a column! No thank you! Not when I am shopping, not when I am driving, not when I am having my morning coffee.

I have this deep-seated fear that if something repeats too often it can brainwash you and lull you into a state of acceptance and compliance – I saw a movie like that once. It freaked me out of my 11-year-old mind!

Does anyone remember how a vibrating cellphone made you jump in alarm? I almost had a number of heart attacks when people called me and my phone was on ‘silent vibrate’ mode. I used to think a scarab beetle was trying to burrow into my soul!

These days a vibrating phone is just one of those things. We have become accustomed to it. It’s just another one of those things … perfectly normal.

But if we allow ourselves to get used to things that repeat – especially things that should cause us alarm – I need to ask, is that healthy?

Let me make an extreme and probably mean and barbed example.

Is it just me, but has anyone else noticed that when you drive past ‘work’ crews who are supposed to be cleaning up our city that we just happen to be driving past during their break time? Whatever time you drive by them?

Is it a coincidence or is it a repetitive pattern? Is this how things are going to be done in this city and is this what ratepayers and residents have to get used to?

Our gardener faced a bigger task than these workers. Our property was an absolute disaster! It would take him an entire day to clean the sidewalk, the following week he would take a day to sort out the front yard, and it took him two full days over two weeks to bring any semblance of respectability to our back yard.

But last week it took him a day to tidy up the sidewalk, front garden and backyard without breaking a sweat. Why? Because all he had to do was light maintenance; the hard work happened during those difficult previous weeks.

His advantage is that he has the habit of putting his head down and working – a trick that many employed people could learn.

And if our young gardener is too unworthy of emulating, perhaps some folk should read this short, simple story I read recently.

A man was asked to paint a boat. He brought what he needed and began to paint the boat a bright red, as the owner had asked him. While painting, he noticed a small hole in the hull, and quietly repaired it. When he finished, he received his money and left.

The next day, the owner of the boat came to him and placed an envelope, with a fortune in the painter’s hand.

Surprised, the painter protested “Sir, you’ve already paid me for painting the boat!”

“But this is not for the paint job,” replied the owner of the boat. “It’s for repairing the hole in the boat.”

“But it was such a small service … certainly it’s not worth this much for something so insignificant,” said the painter.

Then the owner explained that when he asked the painter to paint the boat he forgot to mention the hole. And when the boat dried, the owner’s children took the boat to go on a fishing trip not knowing that there was a hole, and he was not at home at that time.

When he returned home he noticed they had taken the boat, he was desperate because he remembered that the boat had a hole.

“Imagine my relief and joy when I saw them returning from fishing,” the tearful owner said. “Then, I examined the boat and found that you had repaired the hole! By doing that simple act, you saved the life of my children!”

This little allegory is not about doing something in the hope of getting a fat bonus one day … it’s simply about being the best ‘me’ that ‘I’ can be in every single task I undertake.

Along the way, who knows … we might just by chance be able to give our children, the coming generation, a city that they can be proud of, and a reason to celebrate and honour us long after we have ‘moved along’, instead of them cringing when they think of us!

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