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This post is part of my 2022 Word Project. You can read what that’s about here.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

There are a few things in life that I would like explained to me. Nothing as profound as why am I here or is there anything better than bacon?

Simpler things, really, like how is it possible that Spotify is still playing itself in my car even after I’ve quit the app and shut off the car?

Although the more I think about it, it would probably be simpler to explain why I exist than to understand why technology does what it does.

I had to run some errands today, so I decided to give the whole Spotify-in-the-car thing another chance. I queued up an old Duran Duran song because sometimes you need to sing about lizard mixtures even though I have no idea what that is.

It was the 80s, so… crack?

Anyway, I played it. And it worked for about twenty seconds. Then it started skipping, like the little record player inside my dashboard just couldn’t keep up with the potholes.

I’d ask someone to explain to me how a music app skips, but I’d rather ponder bacon.

I tried to pick another song. It refused. I gave up and tried to quit the app. It refused. I pushed the off button on the car stereo but it stayed on. I quit Spotify on my phone. Nothing happened. I turned the car off. The union of the snake was still on the climb.

I finally had to open the door, get out of the car and close the door again before I could get the music to stop playing.

Can someone explain that, please, I really want to understand.

At that point I Googled how to disconnect Spotify from your car, because I didn’t really need to run those errands anyway, and I had plenty of time to sit in the car and figure it out. The closest I could come was how to log out on all devices, which I did.

Now when I get into the car the first thing that pops up on the dashboard is a giant QR code telling me to scan it to reconnect my Spotify. Which I have to quit out of if I actually want to see anything on the dashboard.

You may wonder what this has to do with my word. But I’m not done yet.

Another thing I’d like explained to me is who trains customer service people? Because I can’t for the life of me understand how a simple question like how do I put a profile photo on my account? can turn into a two day, five email affair.

I had to do that for a client. I logged into the account, and attempted to do so. Oops! Something went wrong.

I contacted customer service. I won’t bore you with our exchange, except to say that I had to answer an increasingly stupid array of questions, until finally, I got this reply:

There’s no photo on your profile page. Hope that helps!

You can’t make this up.

But perhaps you can explain it to me.

Other things you might be able to explain:

Why, on a single lane road where the speed limit is 50mph, the guy in front of you drives at 25. The length of the road and your inability to pass him is in direct proportion to how slowly he drives.

How about why, no matter how long I stand at the stove and watch the pot of oatmeal, the second I so much as close my eyes to sneeze, the pot will foam all over the place.

Does it sound like I’m whining a lot? Good, because I am.

Because my whole day was a series of things I would very much like explained to me.

In spite of that, you might be surprised to learn that my word for the day was not explain.

You might, in fact, be surprised to learn that as I stood there watching the oatmeal this morning, only to have it explode all over the stove the minute I turned around to get a glass of water, I chose my word for the day. The word was accept.

Accept the inevitable fact that the stove is going to be covered in oatmeal, because why not. The world has never ended over a ruined pot of oatmeal before, and I suspect today won’t be that day.

Perhaps more importantly, the world never promised you a life free of boiled-over oatmeal.

Spotify isn’t going to fix itself, customer service people are never going to stop asking you if you tried cleaning your air filter right after you told them you cleaned your air filter.

And that woman is never going to stop courtesy calling to give me one last chance to extend my warranty before they close my file. Yes, she called me today, too.

So really, why get worked up about it? Why spend an hour in the evening recounting it? Why not talk about bacon, or wine?

I wanted a glass of wine tonight, but alas. I’m out. That’s just plain old Murphy’s Law, along with you will drop the bread buttered-side down 100% of the time.

Even I don’t need that one explained.

Instead, I accepted a lot today. All of it inconsequential, but in the end the kind of things that contribute to general moodiness of the eat-a-box-of-cookies variety.

I haven’t had cookies in weeks. In fact, come to think of it, I haven’t had cookies all year. That does not stop the scale from being very, very mean to me week after week.

But I accept that too.

There’s a practice called radical acceptance that’s based on the idea of letting what is, be. Without judgement, without wanting it to be another way, without complaining, getting angry, or trying to change it.

This is not a thing I have mastered in any way, but the concept resonates with me. In spite of failed attempt after failed attempt to simply accept what is, I still find merit in trying. In fact, wouldn’t accepting that failure be part of the process of acceptance?

Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist Monk I’ve always found inspiring, died a few days ago. It’s one of those deaths you feel a little more than usual in your soul. There have been so many “celebrity” deaths lately, or so it seems. From Betty White (just incomparable) to Meatloaf (the representation of basically two decades of my life), it’s like little pieces of us get chipped away every time we hear the news.

For me, the death of Thich Nhat Hanh struck an even more significant chord. I’ve followed him and read his books and writings for years. He is one of the people who I go back to over and over again when I need to get hold of myself.

He says things like, “Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness. ”

And, “When you plant lettuce, if it does not grow well, you don’t blame the lettuce.”

And also, “There is the mud, and there is the lotus that grows out of the mud. We need the mud in order to make the lotus.”

Today felt like all the mud, least of all because of the exploded oatmeal.

It was a good day to pull out some Thich Nhat Hanh and be reminded that this moment is the only moment, even if Spotify is still playing. Accepting that without feeling slighted or like somehow that’s the universe’s way of hating you, is really the secret to living.

No, I am not good at this. But accepting the fact that I’m trying is good enough for now.

Just between you and me, though, if Spotify blares in my car again… we’re going to need a whole new word.

Photo: my stove, circa 8:30am, with a screenshot of the car warranty voicemail message.