Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Power to Change

I received my course material for the Wellness and Nutrition course I'm about to take and it has proved some fairly interesting reading so far.  One of the ideas put forth in the first couple of chapters is that most weight loss programs fail because they assume all participants are ready to change.  This, the book claims, is a fallacy.  People may think they're ready to change but they could initially participate out of a sense of fear, panic or obligation.  They don't really want to change, or at least, not yet.  This could well explain the drop out rate I observed at Weight Watchers, and the obstinacy with which some people faced following the program veiled under various disguises of 'no time', 'no money', etc.  It really just boils down to 'I don't want to'.

Mulling this all over in my head last night, I watched a wonderful documentary about one of my life-long favourite musicians, Pete Seeger, called "The Power of Song".  What the film brings home with perfect clarity is that Seeger influenced a generation by singing to children when he was banned from adult venues for his so-called Communist sympathies.  Every kid who every went to camp learned "Michael Row the Boat Ashore" and that was a generation that embraced folk music and the attendant peace movement.  Just as Woody Guthrie had "This Machine Kills Fascists" painted on his guitar, Seeger's banjo says "This Machine Surrounds Hate and Makes it Surrender".  How else could a simple folk song end a war and breakdown social barriers?  Because, as the song says "We Shall Overcome".

Which leads me to think about the music on my IPod.  I've often touted this device as being the greatest invention of the 21st century and I do believe it to be so.  Its' small size and ease in operation makes it the perfect companion for the music lover on the go.  But as a tool to break down barriers, motivate us to change?  Can it do all that?  Yes it can.  Being a lover of folk music means I like any songs that deal with social activism, so here's a sample of what's on my playlist: 

 "It's a New Day" by Will.I.Am. 
Written for Obama's campaign, it was performed at the Inaugural Ball by Will.I.Am and electrified me.  It has some very inspiring lyrics that tell us, among other things, to 'Stop and cherish this moment'.

"Lovers in a Dangerous Time" by Bruce Cockburn.  Another life-long fave of mine, Canada's Bruce Cockburn has also had a life of activism.  There is a line in this song which, despite its violent imagery, absolutely rivets me: Nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight/ you have to kick at the darkness til it bleeds daylight".  Shocking but powerful.  Sometimes change can be a struggle.

"Solsbury Hill" by Peter Gabriel.  There's a feeling of redemption and reward in the line 'Grab your things, I've come to take you home.  I try to keep this one cued up for crossing finishing lines or reaching (most appropriately) the top of a hill.

These are just a very few samples of the over nine hours of music my little IPod Shuffle can and does hold.  But this tiny device is very mighty.  If there was room I would write on it "This Machine Kills Lethargy and Banishes Doubt".  It also contains the power to change.