I mean, seriously, aren’t all enjoyable things bad for you to some degree? Like how too much rich food gives you gout, too much chocolate ice-cream makes you fat, too much coffee gives you heart palpitations; up it another level, think cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, fast cars, casinos — these give you the high, but they also come with an exhorbitant price tag.
Or we can look at this from another angle — the Virtuous Enjoyable Habit angle. So, sports is fun, but it comes at a cost that is physical exertion. (You may argue that physical exertion is actually good for you, but then this benefit comes with a negative by-product which is still physical exertion right?) Same goes for reading, it’s absolutely enjoyable, but it takes concentration. Or writing, for that matter; it’s satisfying, but the process is often trying. In a nutshell, this group of enjoyable activities requires one to work for the enjoyment—they are habits that need to be cultivated.
But when it comes to Music (from a listener’s perspective) it’s a totally different story — It gives you The High, It makes you happier than chocolate ice-cream does, It makes you obsessive; but heck, when it comes to Music, you are free to indulge. Indulgence for once is not a guilt trip. On the contrary, you are often encouraged to (or at least, almost never discouraged from) listening to music. In fact, if you diss Music, something must be wrong with you. Even Bill Shakespeare agrees:
“The man that hath no music in himself, Nor is not mov’d with concord of sweet sounds, Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils." - William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice
You don’t exactly have to work for the enjoyment either. It’s often a case of sit back, relax and enjoy. Of course, there are cases of acquired tastes when you have to work a little to rewire your paradigm before you can enjoy. But I wouldn’t take this to mean that I have to work to enjoy all my Music. I mean, when was the last time you had to actually cultivate the habit of listening to Music?
Perhaps it’s my misconception that Virtue always has to be long-suffering and Vice always exists as Her carefree alter-ego. But even if I’ve indeed misconceived, something so enjoyable HAS to come with some negative side effects, no? Nina Storey sang “Things that seem too good to be true / Usually do / They usually do”. This is almost a universal understanding, but from how I see it, Music seems to have defied this little piece of wisdom… very cheekily.
“With distaste, Harriet reflected upon how life had beaten down the adults she knew, every single grown-up. Something strangled them as they grew older, made them doubt their own powers—laziness? Habit? Their grip slackened; they stopped fighting and resigned themselves to what happened. “That’s Life.” That’s what they all said. “That’s Life, Harriet, that’s just how it is, you’ll see.”—
"But even those of us who write for publication can conclude, once we have clarified certain thoughts, that these thoughts are not especially valuable, or are not entirely convincing, or perhaps are simply not thoughts we want to share with others, at least not now."
“I thought thinking suited me better. I thought that while everyone went out and did things without thinking so much about exactly what it was they were doing, I should do the opposite. I should stay where I am and think, explore reason and feeling and experience, before I act. So when the others chose breadth, I chose depth. I wanted to get to know myself before I got to know the world. Now that I have remained in the same place for so long, watched the things happening around me and the people who rushed passed me, I find that I’m quite content with just thinking. I don’t want to move anymore. I don’t want to move at all.”—