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Life is like an iPod: Choose the hits

May 1, 2008
People that know me know I love listening to music. Like many people my age, my first experience listening to music was on AM transistor radio.

For more on this topic, go to and search using the following key words: music, LPs, compact disc, iPod, life choices.

People that know me know I love listening to music. Like many people my age, my first experience listening to music was on AM transistor radio. Later, my listening moved to vinyl records, both 45s and LPs. For the young people reading this, an LP is a long-playing record pressed on vinyl and played at 33 1/3 rpm. I remember the first album I bought was Ted Nugent and the Amboy Duke's "Journey to the Center of Your Mind."

As time progressed, eight-track tapes replaced LPs. Almost every young driver had an eight-track player in his or her car. Eight-tracks were not a very reliable way to listen to music. I remember often needing to prop an object under the eight-track so it would play properly. I used my trusty comb. Eight-tracks were quickly replaced by cassettes, which eventually fell way to what we thought was going to be the final media for music: the compact disc. Once again, I replaced my entire music collection and vowed it would be my absolute last repurchase of the same music! I even added a 300-disc changer to my stereo to accommodate my entire collection.

I guess you know that my vow didn't last long, because a few years ago I purchased what I now believe will be the ultimate and final medium for my music collection — the iPod. The iPod is basically a miniature hard drive that stores and plays digital music, videos, photos, books and pod casts. Mine holds more than 10,000 songs. It's an extraordinary device that allows me to take my music collection with me wherever I go, experience the joy of purchasing new albums at a moment's notice through downloading, and design individual play lists that match my eclectic taste.

I believe that life is sort of like an iPod. Just as we can fill our iPods with a variety of different music and videos, we can fill our life with a variety of different experiences. Our lives are a series of choices and it is truly possible to choose the hits! We make choices each day, and those choices create the results of our life. We can add new experiences to our iPod library of life just as we add new songs to our iPod.

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One of the things I love about the iPod is its portability. When we travel we choose what we take on our journey. On the journey of life, one of the things that must be portable is our values. There are many things we can forget or decide not to bring with us on our journey, but our values must always be on the packing list. No matter where our life journey takes us, bringing our values with us will make the journey much smoother.

It's not uncommon to see people listening to their iPods. Each person has a different set of listening favorites. I've noticed that even close friends have different lists of tunes. Life is also like that. Each of us takes a different path in life. It's our differences that make our lives more interesting. We can enjoy our life and have it be good for us, and yet like listening to the iPod, not bother others.

One of the big selling features of the iPod is its ability to shuffle thousands of songs like a jukebox. In life, we can also choose to shuffle or not. While shuffling the songs we listen to on our iPod can be a pleasant way for us to enjoy the music, it may not be the way we want to live our lives. In life if we choose the shuffle function, we'll need to accept anything life throws at us. Instead, we have the power to program our life, just like the play list on our iPods.

Theodore C. Schumann, CPA, CFP®, speaks on dental business topics and regularly lectures at the University of Michigan Dental School, the University of Detroit-Mercy Dental School, and dental meetings throughout the United States. He hosts a study group for dentists and authors a monthly newsletter. Reach Schumann via e-mail at [email protected].

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