The forgotten joy of iPod Shuffle

As you all know, I have been on a bit of cleaning binge — I am getting rid of many things to put space back into my “living space.” It has been quite an effort — sometimes emotional, sometimes a reminder of my own lack of clarity before buying things. With rains descending on San Francisco this weekend, I stayed at home and essentially purged, purged and purged some more.

And as I cleaned out my desks — between too many rollerball refills, ink cartridges and what not, I found this iPod Shuffle! On a lark, I plugged in my headphones and just like that, the songs flowed in my ears. I absolutely was taken back to a moment in time when this went everywhere with me. The best part was the discovery of these Incase Headphones – they are absolutely gorgeous and sound fantastic. Well made and probably one of the best designed headphones of their time, I find it strange that uglier, lesser brands succeeded in selling more headphones than this minimalists’ dream.

But back to iPod Shuffle — this diminutive little thing is one of my favorite Apple gadgets — simple, elegant, and minimal. One simple cable to charge the device — that’s it. It allowed the machine to do just enough. It forced me to be selective about the songs I put on the device. These days it is all about the iPhone 6+ and everything big, but to me it was during the iPod era that Apple pushed the design boundaries and changed our expectations around product design, especially in tech products. iPod collateral, iPod commercials, and the then Apple store displays were innovative — so much so that companies such as Tile are still copying them.

About ten years ago, I remember writing this piece, iShuffle Principle about curating one’s life and focusing on few and the best. By 2012, I had made progress but wasn’t able to get rid of all the trappings — furniture and fixtures that only distract. While I tried and failed to live with that philosophy, I was not completely successful and fell off the wagon. Suddenly, there are too many notebooks, books and other stuff which I don’t really need. There are gadgets that have become redundant. A television that hasn’t been turned on for nearly six months. And as a result I am once again back to purging and thus reducing my ownership of things.

The iPod Shuffle appears, ever so often to remind me of my failures to live by the iShuffle Principle. It reminds me, while I try, try and try, in the end the sway of advertising and marketing subconsciously leads me to accumulate more. So it is back to trying one more time, yet another attempt to cleanse and restart!

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A letter from Om

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