Sunday, June 14, 2009

Music to the ears...and heart

Music is ubiquitous when it comes to exercise. We set up playlists; we charge our iPods. We put almost as much thought into our music selections as we do our running route, or how much weight we will lift.

Some purists swear the only way to run is without distraction of any sort. Other people focus solely on the music, so the exercise itself won't seem so difficult. And some use music as soundtrack, weaving its notes into the rhythm of their breathing.

I tend to fall into the last category. Sometimes I'm aware of what's playing in my ear. Other times, though, by the end of my run I couldn't even tell you a song I'd heard.

This is the kind of stuff I think about, especially at the almost empty gym on a sunny Sunday like today. What ARE people listening to? Maybe they're hearing a song for the first time, one they'll play again until they learn the words -- or will delete when they get home.

Maybe the song they hear makes them call a certain person when they get to their car. Maybe it was playing on the radio on their first date. Or they danced to it at their wedding.

Maybe a song pops up that has long reminded them of someone, of something, of a time in their lives when life was good, and they felt whole. Maybe that song pops up unexpectedly. Maybe for a long time, they couldn't bear to listen to it...but they couldn't bring themselves to delete it from their iTunes music library either.

And then one day, they realize the song is three-quarters through, and they're still listening. They haven't turned off their iPod. Nor have they skipped to the next song. They haven't shaken their heads as if, by so doing, they could get rid of its sound and its memory -- like water in their ears after a swim.

Maybe the notes they never thought they'd listen to without crying are just -- notes. Beautiful notes, combining to create a song that really is pretty. Whether it reminds them of anything, anyone, or nothing at all.

Or maybe that's just me.

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