FRAZZLED – and Music

I’m continually meeting parents who are FRAZZLED! I’ve yet to meet one who isn’t pushed to the max with finances, work, getting kids to and from school, lessons, and events. Unfortunately, their children are equally as frazzled. Another interesting observation—frazzled parents spawning apathetic kids.

Reflecting upon my own busy childhood, I’m left wondering why my siblings and I were left neither frazzled nor apathetic. My parents didn’t have the conveniences and technologies that today’s counterparts have. Contrary to the comment that life was “simpler” back when, the Post War babies I’ve met don’t agree. Life was full of adjustment, compliance, compromise, and overwhelming challenges. Post War parents were committed to ensuring their offspring were going to have an easier life than they did – a better education, job, lifestyle. Longevity was a serious goal. Hard work was the order of the day. If it was going to happen, they were going to make it happen.

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Each day was carefully schedule for my siblings and me. 6 am was piano practice time. Excellence was expected in all areas. An “A” grade at school was expected; an occasional “B” was forgivable; a “C” grade was unacceptable! Lessons after school included figure skating, sewing, cooking, music, choir, school events, chores, and homework. Our only ‘free’ time was Saturday mornings. With church twice on Sunday and strict bedtime rules, life was always in motion.

Yet, as busy as our schedule was, we weren’t frazzled. When Dad drove us to a lesson or event, there was no video playing on the built-in mini-van screen, no mini-buds attached to our ears. There might have been something on the radio playing quietly in the background—typically news, which was easy to tune out—but generally, the car ride was a time to stare out the window and look at things passing by. When we arrived at an event, we plugged in wholeheartedly. There were no cell phones to check constantly, no social media to distract us, no water bottles to carry, no masses of information pelting us into changing this or that.

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In my travel experiences, I’ve seen children aged 5-17 working from 6 am to Noon, then dashing off to school for the next five hours, some doing this six days each week. For those kids, there’s no such thing as summer holidays, reading weeks, Christmas vacation, or days off because of teachers’ conferences. Frazzled is not easily found, though it’s clear that quality of lifestyle and longevity would not meet North American expectations.

This raises the question: Does being frazzled play a role in the maintaining of quality lifestyle and longevity? It’s an interesting question, but not one to be addressed here for the moment. Rather, I’m curious as to what it is that marks the difference between having been busy parents and kids in the 60’s – 90’s to being busy in 2017.

I was at my computer by 3 am this morning – stuff on my mind, get a good start on the day so stuff gets knocked off my To-Do list – translation: my 70’s work ethic kicking in at full force. I plugged in my headset for some music, dialing up a favourite album of my dad’s, and went to work. The music – slow! Balanced! Melodic! Harmonic! It hit me that this one factor alone may be a reason why parents and kids today are so frazzled – music is not only faster, but louder, thicker, out of balance. By out of balance I mean that one can feel the overriding bass thumping through speakers while a thin voice attempts to wail over a thick underscore.

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Today’s music is not only available through radio, stereo systems, etc., but it’s heard simultaneously through one’s personal listening device. We’re plugged into frazzled music, perhaps so addicted to frazzle that we need frazzled music to nurture that addiction—frazzled music to blast us out of bed, get us through the shower and out the door to our car where frazzled music underscoring frazzled morning show hosts flashes us through frazzled traffic en route to work, all this happening only if everything functions smoothly.

What happens if a tire blows midst traffic? A bus stalls, creating a traffic jam? A set of lights at an intersection malfunction? We leave the documents for our morning meeting on the kitchen counter? We had little sleep ‘cause one of the kids was vomiting all night? The jacked-up music batters our brains as blood pounds through our hearts, leaving us frazzled. We arrive at work only to learn that our predictable daily schedule is topsy-turvy due to a bomb threat. And that’s just the impact of music on busy.

The world of Instant may well be another jab towards frazzled – this better left for another discussion.


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