Staying in the Groove

Three moments from fifteen minutes of today’s lunch hour:

The NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships are in town the next three days. Thus I had the pleasure of meeting a few of the gymnasts from the University of Utah at Subway. They are adorable. And probably more than capable of kicking my ass if I patronized them by calling them adorable in their presence.

While making my turkey breast sandwich Bobby and I consoled each other from either side of the lunch counter about the awful start to our beloved Red Sox’s season. But the season is still young…very young.

Sandwich in hand and waiting to cross the street to my building a short blonde woman stands next to me talking to her small son in a language I did not recognize. She did so the entire length of the crosswalk and once we reached the other side I asked her what language she was speaking. She said, in a delightful English accent, that it was Swedish as she was originally from that country. They had lived in London for years before her job brought them to Lincoln six months ago. There was no time to go into any further detail than that because the little guy (who looked almost exactly like the little boy in “Jerry Maguire”) wanted in on the conversation. I crouched down to his eye-level, welcomed him to town, and asked him what he thought of the move. He replied that he loved it here. We exchanged four or five low-fives in front of my building before we parted. I would have enjoyed talking more to them. You don’t get that opportunity every day.

Or do we? How many moments each day do we miss?

For those of us old enough to remember, each record album had anywhere from four to six songs per side. Once you set the needle down into the groove you had to listen to the entire side of songs. Or you walked over and manually lifted the stylus out of the groove and try to negotiate it back into the small area between songs if you wanted to skip over one of the less favorite tunes. You would have to do the same if you wanted to re-listen to your favorite that had just finished. I decided this month to finally enter the digital music era and have been busy copying all of my CDs onto my computer and then transferring them to my iTouch. As I’ve been doing this something occurred to me. The way we listen to music today is oftentimes a metaphor for how we briskly run through our lives.

We no longer have to be bothered to sit through that four-minute song that we’re not in love with on the record. With the touch of a button or with a tap to the screen we move quickly to the next track. Or more likely, we never downloaded it in the first place. It simply never existed.

How many moments in the lives of those around us do we miss because we cannot be bothered to keep ourselves in the groove? We pick and choose those things and people we’re comfortable with, not engaging in some of the events around us that may be more fulfilling in the long run, but uncomfortable at first. We risk nothing and remain in our comfort zones. We skip the songs we don’t like. We take the easy way out.

I used to hate the Eagles song “New Kid in Town”. When I’d listen to Eagles Live, it was the five-minute annoying nuisance bridging “The Long Run” to “Life’s Been Good”, two of my favorites. And on Hotel California, it was stuck between the title track and “Life In The Fast Lane”. It was my strong opinion at the time that the song should never have been recorded. But it took too much work to constantly move the needle or speed the cassette forward. So I kept listening. And do you know what? In time it became one of my favorite songs.

On social networking sites I fritter around, typing my attempts at witty remarks here or there, sprinkling them around like happy social dust. Never delving too deeply into things because hey…I’ve got things to do and so many to see. And yet some of my closest friends are here, from my childhood, school years, and adulthood. I wish I did better. But it’s so easy to push the button and move along.

Don’t miss the moments. Be still. A dear friend of mine recently told me she loved me despite my brooding, or maybe because of it. I don’t know that I brood over something so much as I ponder or meditate. I miss many moments I’m sure because I am deep in thought while walking along the sidewalk of life. But then there are days like today where I walk wide-eyed and aware and an epiphany occurs. And in fifteen minutes meet a gymnast, discuss baseball, and exchange handshakes with a little boy from across the Atlantic. Those are the moments I treasure. Those are moments spent in the groove. When you’re in that groove you love. You befriend. You reach out. You trust. And you care.

And you do get that opportunity every day. Just leave the needle down and let it play. You’ll be surprised at what you discover hidden between your favorite songs.

©2009 Jeff Walker. All Rights Reserved.

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3 thoughts on “Staying in the Groove

  1. Pingback: How to be « Dolce Domum

  2. Pingback: Pillars « Dolce Domum

  3. Pingback: Be there in the moment | Mere Observations

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