What’s on your playlist?

The iPod family with, from the left to the rig...

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Today Cai and I were staying at home; he is feeling a little under the weather. He asked,  “Dad, can I put the Beatles on?” Now I enjoy the Beatles a great deal and I am extremely glad that he is excited by melody. I am not quite so overjoyed by the fervor with which he loves a single band and my response was, “while I like them now I do not know if I will like them in a few weeks if we keep on playing Revolver day in and out.”

He smiled and then I do not know exactly what he did, I do not know if he does either, because for the rest of the day we were treated with a random selection from my i-pod. Over the day I heard tunes that I have not listened to for years. It was an eclectic mix and we only skipped three tracks, all of which were talks and meditations. One moment we were treated to a pounding dance track, the next to a child’s show tune, there was classical and reggae, world, rock, pop and everything in between. I know it is my i-pod, yet I was surprised by how much I enjoyed listening to the music on it. 

My 30 GB of i=pod has 1000’s of tunes on it, why do I listen to a couple of dozen albums consistently when there is all this great stuff right there? I tell myself I am in a such and such mood, I do not listen to other things because I compromise with other people’s tastes, I have forgotten about others and I feel I have out grown a substantial amount of it. And you know what I am always craving burning more, newer tunes. The most frightening thing is that it is mainly filled with a soundtrack from a “certain age”.

Where am I going with this? Well I got to thinking that I am very much like my i-pod. I have so many experiences, skills, qualities and characteristics and yet I only really demonstrate a few of them. There are a number of reasons for this which seem pretty similar to my listening habits. Here is the thing, I really enjoyed my random play today, it was invigorating, surprising and extremely satisfying. I saw the breadth of my musical taste and I was proud. I was particularly happy to share it with Cai as it created many new conversations and opened up a lot of new possibilities. There is no right or wrong to what music I listen to, however it is far more fun to play when I celebrate my history, my extended influences and look beyond the immediately comfortable. 

What’s on your playlist and is it worth revisiting?

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On Commuting and Being Open to Experience

Originally posted in November

At this time of year my journey to work usually involves a bike. It can be anything from the the whirl of spinning feet and a pulsing soundtrack oblivious to my surroundings, (or worse still people greeting me) to a festival of sensations  as I slowly pedal the two and a half  beautiful miles into the office. Already winter has taken its toll when ice and rubber did not agree and Wil slid clumsily down the blacktop, the cost including a pair of gloves, a down jacket, a helmet and a probable broken finger. It could have been much worse; watching the tarmac from half an inch as I glided over it,  skin buffered by my helmet was sobering and needless to say the studs are now on!

I like to wear headphones, they spike my attitude and allow me to push harder as I disassociate from the discomfort and focus on the task of going from a to b. By doing more and thinking less I become more efficient rather like a dog bounding full tilt, its hinging mid drift drawing air into its lungs. There is a major problem to this detachment though and that is a separation from my environment. I am no longer part of it, I do not feel it in the same way and therefore do not become involved with it. When on the machines at the gym this may or may not be a good thing, on my ride into work I am even less sure.

Today, I left the house in the crisp dark, it was warmer than it has been for a while with the temperatures hovering just below freezing (good news for snow). This though leads to very slick roads so I slowed down. Travelling by the light from a headlamp was like passing through a tunnel so I focused more on sound and smell. The noise of the treads of studded tires were distinctive and reassuring, the travel breeze on my face refreshing, when I came to the fork in the trail, I usually choose left or right around the lake, today I clambered through the beaver’s industry and after striding through the felled trees reached the lake. Now I have never riden a bike on a lake before, the expanse of open ground allowed a pre dawn light to reach the snow that covered the ice and while Cai & I had skated here on Sunday, I was still a little intimidated to push out onto the flat surface knowing I was seperated from freezing liquid by a mear few inches of frozen water. Like being out at night when it is possible to imagine that every shadow is a bear, being out on this lake raised the intensity of the experience. It was a truly sublime experience, the early morning quiet meant I could hear the shattering frost under my tires. The open flat surface allowed far more interaction with the movement of air and the crisp smell of cold, the low light spread a mirage of dancing shadows. I really felt attached to this place and this moment and with that connection came an uplifting. For a while anyway, the black of the onset of an Alaskan winter was blown away, the frustrations of work and home no longer held me captive and in that moment I was extremely content.

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