For someone who loves to write and who recently joined the blog you’re currently reading, I really can’t stand journaling. In theory, I love the idea of spilling the fleeting contents of my day into a semblance of penned permanence, but in practice, every journal I buy ends up doomed to the same fate of empty lines on forgotten pages, collecting dust on the corner of my desk. The health log I started in an old spiral notebook last autumn? Abandoned by the New Year. The leather-bound gratitude journal on the nightstand of my childhood bedroom? Still sitting there, unopened, mocking me from a thousand miles away. Suffice it to say, there is not much more egregious a task than recording my ruminations at day’s end. While my pre-teen self could easily fill a diary with her angst, today my musings are stifled with procrastination, performance anxiety, and perfectionism (for if I am going to paint the events which colored my day, shouldn’t I do it artfully?) The bottom line is that, much to the dismay of prepubescent “Dear Diary’s” past, journaling is simply not for me anymore.
But alas, this is not an obituary for the death of the journal-writer in me, as I have taken to a different method of synopsization: the Spotify playlist. Every notebook I’ve neglected is made up for tenfold in the brimming “public playlists” tab of my premium account. A deep dive through said section would yield a playlist from when my first boyfriend dumped me and devastated my 17-year-old-self, a scathing anthology of heartbreak shrewdly bookended with the anthemic sounds of “All Too Well” and “We are Never Getting Back Together” by Miss Taylor Swift herself. Or perhaps you’d chance upon the sequel to this playlist, a saccharine assortment of silly love songs that mark the summer when I came to the dramatic revelation that I would, in fact, love again. When I had to write a fifteen-page analysis of Vonnegut’s Slaughter-House Five? There’s a playlist for it–aptly commenced by Mac Miller’s “So It Goes” (if you know, you know.) When I spent three weeks in Tanzania visiting my dearest friends? There’s a playlist for it–one filled with soft folk acoustics listened to at half volume whilst falling asleep so as not to drown out the symphonic backdrop of laughter, conversation, and chopati-making that went on long past the waking hours of this tired mzungu. There’s a playlist that marks the last firsts of my senior year and a playlist I made merely hours before graduating. There’s a playlist for every boy I’ve ever loved and some for a few I really didn’t. For every existential crisis and epiphany, for every crush and consequential disappointment, for every move across the country and moment worth remembering, I have a playlist for it.
While my fervor for mixtape-making and my adamance in using it as a means for documenting life may seem excessive, I insist that every single human with a music service and a streaming device should be making copious amounts of playlists, as well (although the superior service in question is absolutely Spotify—no matter.) It is therapeutic and easy, allowing you to creatively chronicle your day/week/life without the pressure of composing something that you would actually want to go back and read, sans cringe. Instead, perfectionism dissipates with every added song: there’s no need for eloquence when the lyrics have already been written! Like a sonic scrapbook, you can hit shuffle your cleverly titled, carefully curated selection and be immediately brought back to the sounds, feelings, and memories that typified any season of life, from the mundane nature of life in quarantine to the extraordinary reality of simply existing. During a literal pandemic.
And so, dear reader, if you and your journal are still on good terms, more power to you; in fact, I envy you, as does my pitiful pile of hollow notebooks. But if you are like me, seeking a different mechanism for commemorating your life–and I promise that yours is one worth commemorating–I implore you to indulge in the joys of perpetual playlist making.
Perhaps I’ll hallmark this week with a playlist about this blog post about playlists.