Changing Tracks

How many major life altering changes have you experienced in your years on this planet? This might be living in a new country, the death of a loved one, a transforming relationship or changing life – time habits that no longer serve you well. It may be retirement, beating a major illness or a wonderful grey nomad adventure.

There’s an ABC radio program which I listen to as I drive the country roads and highways where I live. It’s called “Changing Tracks.” Listeners write in to the program telling a story of life changing proportions and the music they remember was playing at the time. The presenter selects a story each week and reads it out, followed by playing the music that was so significant for this person. A wonderful program that can be gripping, sad or joyful and uplifting.

There are stories of young love and romance and the music playing at the local dance when Mary met Jack. They just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Stories of survival of child abuse or serious illness and the positive, transformational way people can endure, survive and reshape their lives. The music played can be anything from classical to country, blues to pop. What makes this program so successful is the human connection that it generates- of troubles shared and the stories of resilience, passion and creativity.

Think about the times in your life when events reshaped your story….what was the music that saw you through these events or travelled with you? Bob Dylan came with me- at least on vinyl, when I arrived with my parents in Melbourne on January 1st 1966. I left snow in the UK and hit a 10 year drought in Victoria. As a tempestuous teenager, leaving friendships behind in England (and with no social media at this time!) I consoled myself howling at the moon with Dylan in the sanctity of my bedroom. The times were indeed a-changing!

“Memory takes a lot of poetic license. It omits some details, others are exaggerated according to the emotional value of the articles it touches, for memory is seated predominantly in the heart” Tennessee Williams, The Glass Menagerie

We make sense of our lives as stories. Memories are the heartbeat of these stories.

Just as our wrinkles show that we have stories to tell so do our memories. A dear friend has dementia and we have a memory jar. His long term memory is still mostly intact and on days when he is frustrated and anxious about daily life we go to the memory jar and tell the stories. A photo wall also reminds him of the richness of his life.

So what are your stories? When did you “change tracks?”

Here are some fun things to do

  • Make up a “Changing Tracks” playlist on your iPhone and try out the dance moves that came with the tunes- not so much for Bob Dylan!
  • Write stories for your family of some of these key events in your life
  • Have a few friends around and ask them to bring one photo of their changing tracks- keep it positive and fun. Works well with a glass of wine!
  • Organise that box of photos into a visual story of your changing tracks
  • Keep a journal of memories and stories- sometimes out of nowhere, a memory, detail, a sound or smell will trigger memories and stories
  • If you like creative projects- make a memory quilt, paint a picture, make a sculpture

(Send us a photo?)

  • Cook the dishes that provoke powerful memories for you and marvel at how our food “stories” have changed- what do you mean gluten free?!
  • In your garden, plant some memory plants. My mother had a red Papa Meiland rose in her garden that she was so proud of. Those vibrant blousy blooms and powerful evocative smell. I have one in my garden and every summer the smell of this rose connects me to her.

Your memories inform who you are today. Play with them. Dance with them. Honour them. Discard them if they are not serving you well. They can be are dark as 70% cocoa butter chocolate or as light as feathers. But they are our travel companions consciously or unconsciously. And Bob Dylan music still serves me well- in small doses!

Thanks to Pat Kam.  Unsplash for the feature Image


19 February 2019 | Living Well

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *