Fast food, that quick bite to eat in between one thing and the other, is a pleasure that exists strictly in the moment. We feel hungry, buy a sandwich, open the wrapper, and eat it almost without breaking stride. Just a couple little bites, and it’s gone. It’s just enough to fill the stomach, to eliminate the emptiness. Afterwards, we’re left with a handful of plastic, a limp lettuce leaf (removed beforehand just to be safe), and—with a bit of bad luck—indigestion. But it’ll be forgotten soon. Hardly anyone remembers a snack fished out of some random display case out there in the pedestrian zone. It quickly fades from memory, as does the plastic packaging with the limp lettuce leaf that landed in the trash.

Much the same goes for the music endured by shoppers at a department store or drugstore. It’s random background noise, like the humming of the air conditioner or the clatter of sliding doors at the entrance. It’s not intended that anyone actually listen or give themselves over to it, much less stop and hum along. So it’s nothing like the songs and other pieces of music that accompany us our entire lives long. Whose sounds echo within us when we think back to those moments with which they’re inseparably linked. That song we listened to after our last day at school. The song that was playing in the background when we first made those acquaintances who would turn out to be our most important of all. The song at the end of a movie that perfectly encapsulates the entire plot. Or a piece of music that’s tied to somebody who’s long since ceased to be, that allows us to rejoin that person for a brief moment when it’s heard. In order to hear these pieces of music, to really perceive them, to absorb them within us, we need time. Attention. Commitment. Which aren’t passing, casual things.

When something reverberates and remains with us even when it lies far in the past—it’s then that something is sustainable.

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