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Just Water, No Wine


Diet is a four letter word. Anne Lamott, one of my favorite authors, has a hilarious story about the “D” word. She says that whenever she used to tell her old therapist that she was thinking of going on a diet, her psychologist would respond by saying, “That’s great! How much weight are you hoping to gain?” On some of my braver days, I’ve even used this with my own clients, although it never produces the kind of laughs that I’m hoping for.

Clearly, I would never recommend restricting one’s food intake for the purposes of losing weight, because, even if it works in the short-term, it will backfire in the end. It seems that humans are hard-wired to want what we tell ourselves that we can’t have. Which, interestingly, goes for more than just food. For example, have you ever gone on a Dave diet? I’ve heard that people sometimes do this before the summer tour, to make the live experience that much more amazing. If you’ve tried this, what were your results?

Although I’ve never done this to myself on purpose, there have been times in my life, two to be exact, where, for one big reason, I just couldn’t stomach DMB. They say that your tastes change during pregnancy, and for me, the changes weren’t limited to food preferences. For some reason, just as I couldn’t handle cottage cheese, I couldn’t listen to Dave either. Imagine my horror, when I went to soothe myself with my favorite “Bartender,” and it didn’t do the trick! It actually took me some time to realize that pregnancy was the culprit, and that I wasn’t permanently dis-dave-led. 

To this day, I don’t know why I can’t listen to Dave while I’m with child. It might have something to do with the fact that he’s a man, and that I know that he’s never been through what, for me, were the two hardest times of my life. Or maybe it’s a mystery, as is so much of child-bearing. But, what I do know, is that when I’ve gone back to Dave, after a hiatus, the sounds are that much sweeter. It’s literally like drinking water after a treacherous hike. Uphill. Both ways.

What is it, then, that makes the music resonate so strongly after an unexpected break? Is it simply as the old saying says, that absence makes the heart grow fonder? I might think so, except I’ve also noticed that hearing a DMB song by surprise produces exaggerated results as well. Like, when you are minding your own business, trying to decide on a new nail polish color, and suddenly “Old Dirt Hill” starts playing. At Walgreens, no less! It’s enough to cause an otherwise sane person to jump up and down and squeal like a pig. And speaking of pigs, if I ever heard that at Walgreens, I just can’t even...

But back to the mystery. I can only imagine that it must have something to do with our brain’s chemistry. Music has been shown to change the brain, and we’ve seen that repeated positive experiences can cause new pathways to develop. So, it only follows that certain songs must have their own pathways, (like little roller coaster tracks) in our brains. Therefore, if we haven’t heard a song in a while, or if it comes on by surprise, then the rusty track gets used again, and, voila! Ecstasy ensues.

Even so, I still wouldn’t put myself on a Dave diet willingly. But, at least now I know, that if I ever find myself negatively Dave-sposed in the future, all it will take is a little neuroplasticity to bring that beat back to me again.