Adulthood and Audiobooks: A Soliloquy

On how audiobooks are helping me cope with adulthood better

Oh, the books you will read, the worlds you will travel to, and the magic you will experience. Photo by Dollar Gill on Unsplash

Of late, I have started becoming increasingly aware of my own sense of adult-ness, and have often caught myself thinking about what this phase really entails. I cannot claim any expertise in this area, but so far as I can tell, adulthood appears dangerous.

Life as an adult is far removed from that protected bubble of childhood, the endearing naivete of teenage and the undampened rosiness of early youth. Adulthood is where most people begin finding their flow, knowing themselves and their life goals better, and begin blossoming into the best versions of themselves. But that is also where life starts throwing at you the proverbial lemons in the form of pangs of reality — of what it takes to go through life.

More often than not, one starts to see oneself, family and friends fight through a myriad of woes and worries relating to jobs, loss of jobs, marriages, divorces, diseases and deaths. These are universal anxieties that have existed since the beginning of time — only that adulthood brings these up, close and personal to you, gradually mellowing the unchecked optimism of youth into a sense of staid, tempered realism.

When the rose tinted glasses lift, the picture can be a lot more messy, a lot less pretty. Photo by Luis Villasmil on Unsplash

Add to all these, an unending cycle of domestic drudgery that adults are supposed to pedal on — no matter what. These are the self-repeating, time-consuming tasks outside of one’s regular work — shop, cook, clean, dust, do the laundry, pay bills, fix broken things, repeat. These tasks deal with the business of everyday living, and cannot be ignored for too long without one sliding into a state of physical, mental and emotional chaos. Unless you are rich enough to employ enough people to take care of all the housekeeping work (or magical enough to have house elves at your disposal) you would have a long list of mundane, domestic chores to keep up with — chores that keep you away from your hobbies, and from your Netflix and Chill time. The mental load that these chores bring on is significant.

But I have clothes to wash. And piles of dirty dishes to wash before I sleep. Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

I must clumsily admit — I did not see any of this coming. I had no idea that the by-product of being an adult would be a sundry list of things to worry about and chores to finish. In fact, I did not even see myself entering this state of being, and I did not fully realise it until adulthood hit me right in my face. There were no warning signs at the entrance, no instruction manuals and handouts on how to navigate, no colourful rites of passage; just a slow, grudging realisation over the last few years that adulthood has now spread its tentacles all over me and has got me firmly in its grip.

Keep Calm, and Adult On

Be that as it may, as the old saying goes, when life hands you lemons, make lemonade, drink it and keep one’s cool.

Much has been already written about how to turn the lemons of worries and anxieties into cool lemonades, by people better qualified than me on that subject. I have nothing new to offer on that, other than to share my personal experience with meditation — it does really help.

But on the issue of having to keep up with never-ending housekeeping chores, I recently discovered a quick and simple lemonade recipe — and that is to just plug into an audiobook or a podcast while doing them. And oh boy, what a game changer that was!

The Joy of Audiobooks

If you are willing to listen, the Universe will unfold its magic for you. Photo by Oscar Ivan Esquivel Arteaga on Unsplash

Call me a late bloomer in this department, but it was only very recently that I discovered that listening to audiobooks and podcasts while doing mundane household chores makes me not only much less resentful of the tasks but even welcoming of them. There is a pile of dirty dishes to wash? No problem, that only means listening to the next chapter of the book. Thanks to this smart little technological innovation, my malleable mind readily agreed to reframe this problem into a potential opportunity for getting some reading done. This was magical, to say the least.

This hack worked for me, mainly because one major cause for my resentment towards housekeeping chores was that it took away time I could spend on reading. With audiobooks in place, it became a three way win — (1) I finish my chores without feeling bitter; (2) I complete some amount of reading everyday; and (3) I spend more time moving about (depending on the activity involved), instead of lazing on a couch. This last one was a hidden bonus that I realised only after a few days into the game.

And before you judge me for multitasking — I am not a fan of multi-tasking. But I now know from experience that a significant part of household chores are routine, repetitive ones that do not need any fresh mental inputs, and I have been able to almost fully focus on the book, and follow through with it.

If books are not your cup of tea, there are millions of wonderful podcast episodes to choose from, that discuss almost everything under the sun. Though the quality of audiobooks and podcasts varies a lot, there are many good ones available that offer you a truly immersive experience and transport you instantly to brand new worlds brimming with brand new ideas — and all these while your dishes, window sills, carpets, cars, and the insides of your refrigerators get cleaner.

And no — today my home is not spick and span, and it is definitely far from being a droolworthy Instagram model for home décor. It looks every bit imperfect and disorderly as any human dwelling can be, complete with dog fur on the furniture, and several inches of dust collecting in more corners than I can count on my fingers. There are days when none of the chores get done, with or without the books, and there are days when none of the books get done, with or without the chores. Well, that is how life is. C’est la vie!

But what has definitely changed is that I am no longer as bitter as I was towards household chores, and this has uplifted both my mood and my physical health (remember the hidden bonus of moving about your household getting your chores done?). That is to say, even if I still crib about household chores, I also just about manage to finish some or all of them. And that is a HUGE win, to my mind.

So, while I will not proclaim that audiobooks will help everyone, or that their charm will last forever, I will exhort everyone to give it a try at least once.

All of us could do with some magic in our lives

“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.” — Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

During a particularly gruelling chores-with-audiobooks session, I decided to do a re-run of the Harry Potter books. Listening to the first book itself evoked a lot of nostalgia about the time I read these books for the first time, as a teenager. Listening to them today, as an older adult, made me experience it with a really refreshing point of view — I felt very young and very old at the same time. Young enough to feel the magic and believe in it, and old enough to take them on with maturity. And I absolutely relished the experience.

And I realised that the one character that I feel the most attached to today, is Albus Dumbledore, who stood out like an anchor in chaos, helping one weather the stormiest of storms with his infinite wisdom. And so, I want to end this story by quoting a few of my favourite Dumbledore quotes from the first book, just to bring back a little bit of Harry Potter and magic into your lives:

“It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.”

“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.”

“One can never have enough socks.”

“To the well organised mind, death is but the next great adventure.”

“The truth. It is a beautiful and terrible thing and should therefore be treated with caution.”

I hope that all of you would find the magic in your lives too!

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Gayathri PG

Gayathri PG

Human. Collector of thoughts and memories. Creature of habit. Mostly sane, kind and happy. Speaks needlessly about self.

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