Every year of my life, music becomes less of a hobby.
Obviously, the fact that I interface with it professionally every day has certainly contributed to this, but there is more to it than that. As my (your) life becomes inextricably tethered to a constant IV drip of information-via-screens, everything I consume is simultaneously a distraction and an integral part of a cumulative daily narrative that asymptotically nears critical mass. So how do you reconcile all the disparate information about daily tragedies, Shia LaBeouf antics, presidential campaigns, and speculative Star Wars theories? Sometimes, everything feels as urgent as it is absurd, and you envy Adele’s power to opt-out and just focus. But instead, I see and hear voices of many people.
A few years ago, I was getting my eyes checked by an optometrist, who was not my usual optometrist. She was a little funnier and more conversationally inclined. I went in because after driving home from work one pitch-black winter night in Chicago, I realized that my eyes were struggling to focus on the road about twenty yards ahead of me. This was a problem.
“Do you read from a computer frequently as part of your work?” she asked, putting that big steampunk eye contraption up against my face.
“Yes,” I said.
“Well, if you ever take the train into work, or are walking around on your lunch break, try to see if you can focus on the space in between landmarks or buildings. That should help your eyes exercise and combat nearsightedness.” She said this very matter-of-factly, not realizing that she had given me some of the most poignant philosophical advice I had ever received. So, ironically, I started squinting more, looking for the negative space.
When work is leisure is self reflection is critical analysis, it’s almost like you have to squint, stare, and shut your eyes at the same time to will the constant battery of information into some semblance of a linear narrative. But the stories, whether they exist in the negative space or right in front of you, are worth finding. Sometimes it’s hard work, but mostly, it’s worth it.
Click through the gallery below to see the albums that I thought told some of the most important stories this year.