The Week of Podcasts
I was walking home from the subway and listening to a podcast about the National Basketball Association when the topic matter swerved to sneakers: deals, styles, and the like. There are so many things I know little about, and sneakers is one of them. But now, thinking about sneakers for perhaps the first time in my life, I happened to pass by a pair of young men and I looked down at their feet. One of them was wearing a pair of black and reds, with the number 23 stitched on the side, and I said, “hey, I like your shoes,” and he said, “thanks.” Am I saying that this sidewalk gesture solved the great American race war? I am saying no such thing; I am simply saying, it was something – a tiny act of appreciation, took me two seconds. Later, I began to wonder what else I could pump into my earbuds, and how might it affect the manner in which I made my way through my days. On Tuesday I listened to a podcast centered around the treatment of the elderly in geriatric centers, and subsequently gave up my seat on the subway to work, and again on the ride home. So it was true, what the scientists hypothesized — the content I took in affected the choices I made. On Wednesday, I chose a podcast about empathy, and handed out dollar bills to each and every barking musician who strummed a guitar or squeezed an accordion for our riding enjoyment. But then on Thursday, I regressed, and did a Howard Stern type podcast, and the subway for me became a sea of breasts and butts to be ogled and admired. Well, sure enough, Friday arrived, and I thought, what would be the best podcast I could tune in to, to make sure my final ride of the week was the most significant and self-improving to date? I couldn’t decide; finally, I downloaded an app that lets you listen to the sound of the ocean: crashing and waving, the most natural lullaby. That’s why, when the bomb went off, and they found my body days later beneath the wreckage, I was smiling the way I was, all peaceful, even serene, the earbuds still in my ears. There were bigger things than me or you or the bomb. They’d been here since forever, and I knew they’d outlast us all.