The title is a question I saw on an annual survey on someone's blog. (The survey is a meme.)
I was pondering this in the car ride to work this morning and came up with my answer: Music. Music keeps me sane.
I listen to music in the car using my iPod. I sing along with it. It keeps my head busy.
Music can set my mood or influence it. Relaxing music helps me relax. Louder, faster music helps me stay awake and alert. Softer music helps me reflect and slow down.
I listen to music at work on my iPod. Often it helps me focus on my work. Sometimes it detracts, but that usually occurs when the work is thick and difficult.
I listen to music on the weekends, when I get ready in the morning. During the week, I listen to the Z Morning Zoo (Z-100). But on the weekend, my timing is different so I just put in a CD and hit "play" or "shuffle."
Sometimes I listen to music at home when I'm surfing the web. Open up iTunes and hit shuffle. It gives a nice background for concentrating on other things.
I don't buy that much music for the amount I listen to. I buy an album or two every now and then, but it's on the order of 1-2 dozen per year. I always have a current, preferred set of albums in rotation. That's how I usually listen to music on my iPod, by album. Sometimes I select a particular song, though, and some albums I only have one song (from iTunes).
I also use iTunes to look for new music, listening to other artists and groups they categorize with ones I know and like. For example, I found Lacuna Coil from Evanescence.
There are a handful of albums that I would like to buy. One day I'll order them from Amazon. One day...
I would be apt to choose something else as keeping me sane, such as TV or movies or boardgames or games in general, except all of those have concomitant downsides. For me, music does not have a downside. I don't just sit and listen to music, I listen to music while I do other things, including work, drive and think.
I think music is my lifeline. It is happiness and sadness, old and new, vibrant and melancholy, dreams and death. It describes feelings I've had and ones I haven't and a myriad host of in-betweens that pluck at my heartstrings in different ways. Music reflects my mood and is my mood and makes my mood but rarely causes my mood. Music is powerful. It tells stories I enjoy and ones I hate and other times it just sits there and serves as a counterpoint to the world. It doesn't forsake me or forget me or make time for me. Music is always playing. Music is an undercurrent to my being.
Music keeps me sane.