I scare myself. Touching my skin, the crisp air provokes a sensation like a spider crawling up the spine, as I sit, distracted. The faint murmuring of a distant man gives a spooky feeling about the room, but do not be alarmed: it’s only a podcast. I inherited my love for these thirty minutes of magic from dad, when every night I curiously observed his routine. He couldn’t sleep without them; and now I depend on the weekly Men in Blazers or Dear Hank and John podcast—to name a few. I’m obsessed with soaking up all the knowledge I can, and my podcasts help. I’d like to think that podcasting is my first love because of my will to learn, yet I can’t hide the fact—I’m scared. I never take the time to sit and let my brain wander, because I’m not sure where it will take me. Subconscious distraction can only distract me so much, and forty five minutes of a Jalen and Jacoby Podcast forces my thoughts to move from my future to the latest NBA news. I elect for a thirty minute Slate Political Gabfest podcast, because it distracts me. I may not be the most productive while listening, yet it is within these 30 minutes of heaven that I learn the most about myself.
When listening, I’m always learning. Whether I’m taking in new vocabulary or listening to a recap of the weeks games around the world, I don’t want to stop learning. Hearing an intense debate about the latest controversial refereeing call only brings enjoyment, and soon there’s more than just a podcast. I hear the two men furiously trying to get their points across, and I can only imagine the bullets of saliva whooshing across the room, forming small lakes of passion. It’s a Wednesday—mid-morning—and two gladiators, armed with the finest insults and state of the art coffee mugs, enter into the ring. The crowd is silent, and not even the wind can miss the encounter, as it dies and the surrounding swirling sand falls. Their eyes lock, piercing each others hearts like icicles penetrating soft snow. Their pace towards each other increases, and soon the crowd can read the dried soon-to-be-cracking lips of the parched men cast in bronze and NBA shirts. They engage: punches thrown and countered, cheeky banter launched left and right, and chaos ensues. Their humorous yet rational and thought-provoking discussions give me a similar experience, one which is both educational and entertaining. No matter the podcast, sport or current events, I pick up communication skills and listen to the thought processes of amazing people—gladiators who go to war three times a week.
My education is more than just my grades or participation in class, it should help me to look at myself in a different light: to provide perspective and the basis to reflect. As much as I love podcasts and the educational experience, they simultaneously are my worst enemy. Sitting in silence while driving, or even sleeping, I elect to turn on a podcast to help soothe me. Whereas someone might choose to sit in silence or rest the brain with a good night’s sleep, I refuse as I will have too much time to think. Scared of what my thoughts will bring whenever I’m exercising on the nature trail, rather than taking in the beautiful colors of fall and listening to the sounds of nature, I choose artificial entertainment: education which, in reality, is just a distraction. I, like a fish out of water, will not be able to push forward without my podcasts, and I will suffocate. The elegantly scaled beast, with so much hope, depends on the water. It knows it must keep swimming, as there are bigger fish in the sea. There will be obstacles on its journey, but the fish never stops to think, for it knows that complacency will be its death. The fish doesn’t stop moving, and clings to the sole hope of survival. The slimy stud can never see itself, and does not waste its time trying to envision itself. The fish keeps swimming forward, in the cool, abstract water.
The influence podcasts have on my life has become meditative. Rather than the regimented life of everyday school life, my podcasts provide a different means upon which I build my education. Every day I burn through podcast after podcast, sometimes at the detriment to my studies. Yet my time is not wasted, as I feel sometimes the matters being discussed in my podcasts are more relevant and important for the future than my classes. This captivating, insightful, cultural combination of language and ideas, of reflection and vulnerability, appeals to my curious and engaged personality. I will forever be in debt to the production of the gladiators.
– Luke Green, The Haverford School, Class of 2016