Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Oh, the decadence: NPR in the shower

It’s pretty decadent, I admit.

But when my in-laws gave me an Amazon gift card for my birthday last fall, I already knew what I wanted to spend it on: a wireless shower speaker, so that I could start my day-long NPR fix just a few minutes earlier.

As it is, I listen to NPR while I’m running, while I’m driving, while I’m cooking and doing housework. If I’m by myself and not reading or writing, I’m usually filling up my brain with a steady stream of news, culture or commentary from NPR.

And the silence in the shower was starting to seem like a waste of time when I could be catching the headlines or the first couple of stories on Morning Edition.

I confess, I’m a little bit sheepish about it. Surely there’s something to be said for reflective silence once in a while, even if one has to impose it upon oneself grudgingly. Surely there must be a price to pay for my choice to remove even the silence of the shower from my day. Will it curtail my creativity, I wondered? Will I never again come up with a random thought, if even when showering I can be listening to someone else’s voice?

Before buying the wireless shower speaker, I read reviews on Amazon. “It used to be that the only thing I could do in the shower was get clean!” proclaimed one highly enthusiastic new user. I wasn’t sure whether this was meant to be facetious or not. It used to be that getting clean was the sole function of a shower, but now it’s a time for absorbing the headlines as well. Is that bad?

Sometimes I do feel remiss in taking so many measures to eliminate reflective silence from my life. I inhale audio content whether I’m exercising or working around the house or, now, even during the lather-rinse-repeat cycle. Along with the silence, am I eliminating any possibilities of unbidden musings or meandering digressions of the imagination?

Yes, probably. And yet I’ve always found that some of my most useful unbidden thoughts come to me not in times of silence but rather accompanied by white noise. Sometimes it’s exactly the distraction of a BBC commentary or an interview with an obscure jazz composer that leads me to think up article ideas or essay topics.

The bottom line is that I love listening to the news in the shower. It just feels like a more interesting way to start the day. Gretchen Rubin, author of “The Happiness Project,” writes that there’s no shame in admitting we like our material possessions. So there it is. It’s the ultimate decadence, NPR streamed into the shower, but it’s a wonderful way to start the day. Learning about international events that occurred overnight; finding out the weather forecast for the day ahead; catching a movie review on the cusp of the weekend.

And I also get clean, which has come to seem almost like a bonus. But it’s a pretty good way to get the day launched.

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