We all know the routine. When someone starts telling us something we just don’t want to hear, we stick our fingers in our ears, and start to sing “La, La, La, La…” very loudly.
We’ve seen it on the Simpsons, when Homer has been confronted with the fact that he’s spent the kid’s college money.
I have a variation on this. Whenever a particularly embarrassing or painful memory springs into my mind, just as abruptly, out of nowhere, a song goes on in my head. It’s as though someone drops a phonograph needle on a record, right in the middle of a song. I guess it’s just a clumsy defense mechanism intended to drown out the memory. It’s so ingrained that it happens without any effort on my part. I don’t know if it obliterates the memory or merely pushes it back down into my unconscious only to have it arise again at the most unexpected time.
I’m not sure when I learned to do this. I’m not sure if I learned to do this. Perhaps if I were a mature adult, I could better handle bad memories. Some strategies more normal adults opt for: I could conveniently misremember it. I could rationalize my behavior. I could face it, and either forgive myself or carry the memory around with me until it fades for a while. But for now, a song kicks in like a particularly effective prescription drug. And people wonder why I like music so much.
And it was at that moment that I decided to quit my job. Prior to that I made all the good “professional” excuses for not doing this – pride, seeing a project through to the bitter end, toughing it out… But now I was giving myself permission to do otherwise.