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The importance of the pause

I was going to be lengthy and philosophical tonight, but then I realized that I don’t need to be. Brief and philosophical is even better, yes?

Some of my blogging friends have written about their favorite music, and I’ve followed up on and enjoyed some of their recommendations. My favorite contemporary band is and always will be the Moody Blues (OK, contemporary for those of you of a certain age). But I love and am moved by a wide variety of music from classical to bluegrass to jazz… pretty much everything but hardcore electronica, anything obscenity-filled or blatantly misogynistic, and opera.

I’m especially fond of an obscure composer by the name of Erik Satie. Over the past couple of years I’ve collected much of his work, which is primarily solo piano (or was originally written as such). Satie was a fixture on the arty early-20th-century Parisian scene, inspired and was inspired by the likes of Ravel and Debussy, and drank himself to death at the age of 59. He is best known by his early work Gymnopedies, in three parts, of which part 1 is most familiar and what first caught my ear. You’ve probably heard it in your dentist’s office. I’m no music theorist, but I think I love three things about this piece: the unexpected, almost discordant chord progession; the way part 1 ends in mid-air without returning “home;” and the silences between the notes. I own several versions of this piece and the ones I like best are
R E A L L Y    S L O W, with obvious pauses between each note. This interpretation leaves me hanging, waiting for a resolution that never… quite… comes. This slow-down-and-off-kilter-stop experience is very satisfying in an odd sort of way.

According to my running plan spreadsheet, I was supposed to run 3 miles yesterday afternoon… but I had a headache and I took a nap. So I thought I’d run 3 miles this afternoon… but it was pouring rain, and I had another matter to attend to.

I had met with my attorney on Monday and obtained the documentation that was going to enable me to finally close Kurt’s checking account at REALLYBIGBANK. I know, this is the week when lots of people are closing their accounts at various REALLYBIGBANKS, but in my case I was simply happy to be able to mark one more thing off my list. The local branch employees were courteous and helpful, and it only took me about an hour to walk out with a check. I will, however, admit to an internal smirk as I severed my ties with that bank. I moved to a local bank several years ago, but Kurt chose to stay with that particular REALLYBIGBANK for some reason.

I thought I’d go home then and do 3 miles on my treadmill, but since I was already out I took myself out to dinner instead.

So I didn’t get that run in today, but that’s OK. I can let it be OK if I only run twice a week instead of three times. My knees like it better that way, anyway. Tomorrow is beer run night again, and I expect to be there even if it’s rainy and windy (which is exactly what the forecast says).

Tonight, I’m simply appreciating the unexpected pause.

Trying to put my heart back together

I have 6,919 songs (and counting) spread across my various iDevices. I think that’s a rather large number, at least for my generation. Some of them were free or nearly free songs from my music vendor of choice, which I elected to download primarily because they sounded like good potential running songs (as in, “it has a good beat, I can run to it”). Some of those songs have been real winners, and I’ve gone on to buy their respective albums like a good little consumer.

A couple of years ago I picked up a song called “Trying to Put your Heart Back Together.” It’s just an ordinary song about trying to get over a breakup, but it has a great beat and yes, I love to run to it. One day I noticed that the name of the group was “Slow Runner.” This was probably not long before I started to refer to myself as a slow happy runner. I’m sure there is a connection there but I honestly do not recall how I came up with that appellation for myself.

Anyway, while I loved the song, when it came up in rotation while I was driving just a few days after Kurt died I discovered that it was one of the MANY songs that I could not bear to hear. There aren’t a lot of lyrics, but the primary feature of the song is that hook, “trying to put your heart back, trying to put your heart back together,” repeated several times.

I’ve reached the point where I can enjoy listening to it again, although it still makes me sad. But this morning I finally listened to ALL the lyrics of the song. What I found there was advice. Not profound, but useful advice. Some things I’m already doing, some just don’t suit my personality, and some I’m not yet ready to do — but all are worth considering.

Watch the snow fall          (I don’t want to contemplate winter, but this sets the mood)
Make some phone calls     
(needed, but difficult for this phone-phobic person)
Spend your whole life
Trying to put your heart back
Trying to put your heart back together.    
(that about sums it up for me right now)

You go out dancing                              (not yet)
With the beautiful and handsome        (oh, that’s scary)
Spend the whole night                         (very scary)
Trying to put your heart back… etc.

Where’d the day go                          (I ask myself that question every day!)
Out the window
Through the meadow
Down a wormhole
                            (now that sounds about right)
Each day you draw a new line     (HOW to keep moving that line forward, not back?)
This is the last time                (standing with one foot in the future and one in the past)
This is the last time
                     (unable to move on though you need and want to)
Trying to put your heart back… etc.

You can google the song if you want to; I found several versions of it on YouTube. It’s got a good beat — you can run to it, cry to it, argue with it, or just go ahead and put your heart back together. What I don’t want to do is to simply sit and watch the snow fall.

Last Sunday I did go out running, for the first time since the half marathon. I ran 6 miles and yes, I ran the whole way, on a pace about 30 seconds per mile faster than my half marathon pace, which made it just about the fastest 6 miles I’ve ever run. The last mile of the section of trail that I ran (which I’ve run many, many times) is slightly uphill — only about 100 feet but it can be daunting at the end of a run and I’ve never just run that mile before on a run of any length. My knees are a little tender today so it may have been a bit too much, but it felt great at the time.

As I’ve come to expect (but seem to forget when I get down in the dumps) running helped me break through the logjam. I went grocery shopping. I took myself out to dinner. I was actually (most miraculous of all?) very productive at work today. Maybe I’ve turned a corner? Probably not a major one, but the road immediately before me looks a little brighter at this moment.