Tag Archives: songs

enjoy the song you’re currently listening to.

I’ve started running seriously again and, as I’ve said before, what you listen to on your run is totally half the battle. (It’s possibly even more than half but LET’S BE HONEST, I’m even more terrible at math than I am at running so let’s just move on.)

My run this morning was particularly laborious. Not only is is already full-blown summer here, so the 90-degree-already-and-rising heat was mercilessly beating down on me like a fiery fist, browning up my arms with a quickness, but the wind was also crashing against me (and poor Dax in the jogging stroller) with full force which made it feel like I was trying to run through a wall.

So naturally every bone, cell, and fiber of my being was calling out to me, “Why are we doing this? This really sucks. Please stop doing this. Please go back home and put us back on the couch so we can die in the comfort of our own home.”

And I really wanted to.

Then a really silly song came on my running playlist and I made a genuine effort to move my attention to the song from the pain in my body and just enjoy the music. And it worked.

Then the next song came on just as my body started to scream more furiously at me. And I focused on THAT song and pushed through.

And that was my mantra for the rest of the run. Just try and enjoy each song, each as its own little piece of art, from beginning to end. Keep the legs moving, keep the breath going, and just enjoy the song. And you know what? I didn’t die. I finished the run and perspired a good gallon of sweat then took a shower and I felt great. And now I’m blogging. BLOGGING! Like I’m supposed to!

Not to be a total downer, but I think it’s safe to say that when we walk through this life, pain is inevitable. Disappointment is pretty much par for the course. People are going to let us down, our jobs are going to get frustrating, our families are going to be strained, and some of our relationships are going break apart. And all of that sucks. Just like when I’m running and hate it, my M.O. when life gets rough is to shut out the world and ball up on the couch and die a little bit.

But by doing so, I miss out on the “songs” I’m currently listening to, or the art surrounding me: my son’s laugh, the blue sky, the grass between my toes, good food (particularly PASTA!), and so on.

If we shift our focus from our obvious and inevitable hurts to the hidden art around us, we can get through each day. We can finish this hard run, one song at a time, and be better for it.

What “songs” are you listening to currently? What “art” can you appreciate today?

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Filed under personal, running

active listening: “shelter” by jars of clay.

A few of my blogger friends write about the songs that influence their lives on a daily basis, so I thought I’d give it a try today because this song has been the fragile thread holding me together for the better part of two weeks. I’ve written about this song before, but it tends to be my go-to tune to pour into my brain whenever I come into times of self-doubt, loneliness, and fear. I’ve been violently thrust into the throes of these emotions lately, and so I’ve been trying to actively seek refuge in art to effectively surf these unrelenting waves of pain.

Monday, I believe, I pulled this song up on my iPhone, stuck my earbuds in, and pressed the “repeat” button and let myself fall into it.

When I got into my car, I plugged my phone into the auxiliary port and turned the volume all the way up and actually worshiped. Like, for really real worshiped. In my car. With my eyes closed (only at stop lights, of course) and hands raised.

willowfilter

It’s now Thursday, and I’m still here in this space, running down my phone battery in the name of spiritual health.

The melody is simple, but I wouldn’t call it catchy. It’s not a song that, in my opinion, is easily “stuck” in your head. I think you have to intentionally put it there (as opposed to the likes of “Call Me Maybe”, for example) and I’ve been trying to do just that. The words are small, uncomplicated, and unobtrusive, but extremely powerful in times of defeat.

To all who are looking down / holding on to hearts still wounding
For those who have yet to find it / the places near where love is moving
Cast off the robes you’re wearing / set aside the names that you’ve been given
May this place of rest / in the fold of your journey / bind you to hope / we will never walk alone
In the shelter of each other / we will live / we will live
And Your arms are all around us…

God has given us each other / and we will never walk alone

Whenever I discover a really great record, I listen to it to death. I remember when Plans by Death Cab for Cutie came out, I put the disc (what is this “disc” I speak of?) in my dashboard CD player and listened to it whenever I drove for the better part of eight months. The boy I was in love with at the time found this irritating.

“You always listen to the same songs,” he lamented. “You’re so boring.”

Maybe he was right. Maybe I’m boring. But I’d like to think that, as a writer and a musician, I happen to understand the power of words and music and that I intentionally expose myself — albeit repeatedly — to the good stuff because good art has the ability to, if you let it, seep deep within your DNA. To become a part of you for the rest of your life. There are still pieces of Plans, for example, that, whenever I hear them, bring me back to that time when I was “boring”. With the opening riff of “Soul Meets Body” I can still feel the hot, sticky summer air flooding my Mazda 626 and I can still smell the mold in my tiny student apartment. I can remember what it felt like to know that my soul and my body were, in fact, different things and I can remember being in love and not exactly knowing why.

By listening to the simple, repetitive, beautiful words and music of “Shelter”, I can feel hugs from my husband and scruffy, hasn’t-shaved-in-a-few-days forehead kisses. I can see encouraging text messages from my pastor. I can feel a smile creep across my face at the sight of any one of my amazing friends. I can feel the warmth of God’s embrace. I can actually feel grace. I can feel this grace I read about and know that it is real.

Our tears aren’t ours alone / let them fall into the hands that hold us.

Let them! Let them! 

And Your arms are all around us / and we will never walk alone.

The last words of the song are “never walk alone”, not preceded by the “and we will” part.

To someone who is listening to that song for the first time, it may seem that it is one last mention of the very repetitive refrain. But to someone like me, who has listened to the song so many times that it is almost white noise  — someone “boring”, I guess — I see it as an intentional call to action by the lyricist.

Never walk alone.

Yes, God gives us a shelter. He gives us community in which to do life. But it is up to you to seek it out, to intentionally grab people in your life and boldly ask them to walk alongside you. Even when it is hard. Even when you are hard to love, you have GOT to let yourself be loved because, damnit, that’s what this grace thing is all about.

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