It was the introduction of the ridiculously tiny iPod Shuffle manufactured by Apple that first got me thinking about it.
The clue is in the name.
Namely, that every now and then, I could allow the music I had selected to play in a completely random order – aka shuffle mode.
Many people of course, far prefer the order they have already chosen for their music to be played back to them.
I think I sit somewhere in between the two preferences.
On the one hand, I really enjoy the random nature of shuffle mode – not knowing what is coming next, or as some people have described it, like having your very own personalised radio station, with no commercials, no DJ presenter to ruin the flow.
On the other hand, even if I haven’t played a certain play-list for some time, my subconscious memory knows what track is coming up next, within seconds of the current one ending. I love this feeling every time it happens and it is not restricted to music play-lists.
It can be applied to journeys that have not been repeated for years.
Or TV documentaries, particularly about history or sport. I can be watching something and of course, the subject interests me (otherwise I wouldn’t be watching – I cannot stand TV as mere background noise!) but I may not have thought about the subject matter for a very long time indeed.
Earlier this year, I watched the fascinating series called Thatcher: A Very British Revolution. During the episode concerned with the Falklands War, there was an interview with her Defence Secretary at the time, and I instantly knew his name long before it came up on the screen – Sir John Nott.
How did I know that? He has not been in the public eye for many years and with all due respect to his achievements, he was not exactly a high profile politician and disappeared from public life just a few months after the Falklands War was concluded.
Is it my photographic memory syncing with a memory for names? Perhaps.
Whatever it is, I am one of those people who love it when I instinctively know what is coming next – music or man, woman, date or action about to be revealed.
I am not saying this is particularly rare. I think a lot of people experience this as part of accessing their locked vault of subconscious memories that is so brilliantly explained by Malcolm Gladwell in his superb book Blink – The Power of Thinking Without Thinking.
What I am saying is this: Sometimes it’s Good to Shuffle.
In other words, whether it is the music you’re listening to or the way you go about your normal, everyday duties at work or home.
Why not mix it up a bit and see where that takes you?
And even better, put your music on shuffle while you’re at it! 🙂