Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Music, Musings, and the art of Meandering

Several years ago, my ex started making a series of music compilations for listening to in the car called, "My Sitcom Life."  These were interesting compilations, each revolving around some sort of theme.  One had a bunch of songs about breaking up and/or about the fact that love hurts sometimes--"Love can be bad luck" Another had a bunch of songs about soaring, flying, floating, etc., called, "Flight."  The last iteration that I know of was called, "And now a word from our sponsors," which featured several mock commercials for the Taliban, the US Navy, and others.  I don't have access to these playlists anymore, and I actually don't miss it all that much....I gave my ex the control of what we listened to because he was more into music than I was--it was also easier to concede in order to keep the peace.

Now that I am alone again, it has been fun re-acquainting myself with the kind of music that I like to listen to--contemporary Christian music, recent country, some hip-hop and rap (thanks Sarah--it is your fault that I like this stuff!), Blues, Boy-bands (yes, I like Boyz to Men, and the random New Kids on the Block hit--sue me!), Crooners (Harry Connick, Jr., Josh Groban and Michael Buble!) and the occasional dance/top 40 hit (Gangnam Style, anyone?).  It isn't that I didn't like most of what my ex liked to listen to....in fact, I was introduced to a lot of bands that I probably never would have heard without him, most good, and some totally not my type of music.  No matter why it happened, it means that I'm probably about 10 years behind on country music hits, and 6-7 years behind on Contemporary Christian music, with similar gaps in other genres I like.

Destructo-Dog strikes again....Maybe she is telling me that I'm spending too much time surrounded by noise...Either that, or she just likes the taste of my ear-wax--this is probably the 3rd or 4th pair of earphones that she has destroyed!

I also know that, at some point in our marriage, I began to notice a decided lack of silence in our house....the TV or music was almost always being played at home, so I often opted for silence when I had the choice rather than music or TV.  I began giving up TV and/or radio for Lent.  To this day, my main time of prayer is my morning commute, mostly because I got into the habit of driving in silence.  On the way home, I am often found listening to books on tape--it is my favorite way to read non-fiction.  I think that, in trying to play catch-up, I have lost that silent space in my life....something that all of us need in order to listen to the Lord.

I think that Blessed Mother Teresa says it well:

The fruit of silence is prayer
The fruit of prayer is faith
The fruit of faith is love
The fruit of love is service
The fruit of service is peace.
 This is why I plan to leave my nano and my headphones at home when I walk my Camino this August/September (85 days!!!)...I will have my iPad mini in order to update this blog and keep in contact with family and friends back home via the occasional Skype session, but I don't plan to answer my e-mail while I am gone either.  I actually have quite a bit of music and audio-books on my iPad, but because it isn't as easy to carry as my nano, I will be less likely to whip it out while I am walking.

Besides, while I love to run to the sound of music, I hate hiking to music.  I think it is because music helps me keep my tempo when I am running, but it detracts from the experience when I am hiking.  It detracts from my enjoyment of God's handiwork surrounding me.  Running is about the internal struggle and the way my muscles and sinews move with each other, but hiking is less about me.  Climbing the trail up the mountain takes on spiritual overtones--it is not completely about conquering, but about enjoying the journey.  Running is all about conquering myself, though, and finding my personal limits.  The first step of each successful run seems to start with the question, "Can I?" and end with a resounding "I Can!"  The first step of each hike I take usually starts with, "How far will I get today?"--That question isn't just about the length of the trail, though.  It includes the contemplation, the working through, the random thoughts that scamper around as I walk familiar trails. It is meandering down paths never taken before, both literally and figuratively, which must be explored like a loose tooth must be wiggled by a 6 year old. It is a point of pride to run the mileage that I plan for myself; It is OK if I don't get as far while hiking, because the dig-dog is hot or starting to limp, or I'm starting to get sun-burned.  I finish each run high on endorphins and each hike feeling incredibly blessed....a different kind of high to be sure!

It could very well be that my recent injury was God's way of reminding me that running is a gift from Him, just as much as Hiking is.  I know that, but I'm not sure that I acknowledge it as much about running as I do about hiking.  As much as I love to run, and it is on par with chocolate when I am PMSing or a perfect Creme Brulee, I think that hiking does more for my spirit in the long-run, and if I ever have to choose between the two, hiking will win every time.  The difference could be that I allow myself to be silent when I hike, but don't when I run....I just know that I am less likely to run as far in the quiet than I do while listening to music--maybe because the negative voices in my head are more active while running and the music drowns them out. More than likely, that won't change until I can give myself the permission to ask, "How far will I get today?"  at the beginning of a run.  If I can ever make that transition, I will probably surprise myself by going further than I ever dreamed.  But, like the old adage says,
"the longest distance is from the head to the heart"
So, as I sit out another week to allow my leg to heal,  I will try to meditate on the following verses:

Come, behold the works of the LORD, 
how he has wrought desolations in the earth.  
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; 
he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear,
he burns the chariots with fire! 
"Be still, and know that I am God. 
I am exalted among the nations, 
I am exalted in the earth!" 
The LORD of hosts is with us; 
the God of Jacob is our refuge. [Selah]    
--Psalm 46 : 8-11, RSV