An Apology and A Thought

I have been a bad blogger this week, but I have an excuse, I swear!  I was actually out-of-town working – don’t worry, I don’t secretly have an extraordinarily interesting job, the details of which you surely should like to know but which I am withholding – so I consider that a sufficient excuse.  I barely even had time to get some reading done.  In any case, I’m sorry.

So, there I am at work and several of my colleagues are the sort of people who must have a radio on, screeching the latest Top-40.  In many circumstances, this is fine, of course, I am not a snob about what music people enjoy listening to – how could I be since, according to my wife, I have the worst taste in music ever (and I’m inclined to agree) – but there are times and places for Nicky Minaj and the office is not one of them.  People are trying to think, don’t’cha know?

“Starships… are meant to fly… y… y… y… y…”

It’s interesting how modern pop music really does seem perfectly formulated to take over one’s mental processes.  Nicky Minaj is something completely different from, say, Frank Sinatra.  But of course this mental over-powering is precisely the point of having such music playing constantly – they’re trying to ward away the boredom (and Lord, is this job boring) and all its attendant thoughts (without, you know, finding some more work to do).  I find this troublesome, not only because my job does occasionally require me to think, but also because I do try to do the Buddhist mindfulness thing and I find it really hard to keep that sort of awareness going with that sort of music going on in the background – it sucks one in.

And this made me think a little about dukkha (‘suffering’ or ‘dissatisfactoriness’) and that old saw that ignorance is bliss.  The Buddhist suggestion is, of course, that emotions like boredom are suffering as much as is anything else, but the proposed solution is to pay even more attention to that aspect of the experience instead of finding some respite.  This makes me curious – if, let’s grant, Buddhist practices work as advertised and make us suffer less, might we nevertheless be more experientially aware of this lesser degree of suffering?  Might we suffer less but notice it more?  Is this something we want?