Without earphones, different music

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Most mornings, when spirit moves me, I slip earphones in, set my pedometer, check the time on the kitchen clock, turn on my music and head out for a walk. The path I take is pretty much the same, with an optional hill thrown in every so often.

This morning, spirit whispered, “get off your behind and walk.” Since it is a good idea to listen to those whispers, I put on my shoes, grabbed the pedometer and started to put on the earphones. That is when I heard another whisper.

“Walk without the earphones,” it said.

What? Take no music with me? That didn’t seem right. I usually move to the same playlist. When I hear a certain song, I know about how long I’ve walked and how much longer to my three-mile goal.

The playlist is an interesting combination starting with Don Henley, and going into a mix that includes Aretha Franklin, Jason Mraz, Ringo Starr, Keith Urban, Beth Nielson Chapman, and Katy Perry. I end with a final inspiration from Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky.”

I try to hit three miles before Norman starts singing or before he finishes. If I do, then I know I’ve walked it in under 50 minutes. Some days I make it, others I don’t. Either way, I reward myself by cooling down to the sound of the Carpenters.

So, the challenge today was to move without the music pushing me.

“OK,” I said, “but I’m taking the pedometer.”

Out I went into a beautiful spring morning, walking my familiar path. At first, it was strange to walk with no song playing in my ear, but that changed when suddenly, I noticed things I didn’t usually hear.

I heard my feet as they sank into the sand one after another. There was a nice rhythm to the sound. Then I heard my breath coming in and out, almost matching the rhythm of my feet. I moved in time to the beat of my heart, the movement of my breath and the steady pace of my feet.

As I made a pass by the lake, squawks from blue jays filled the air. Did they do that every morning? If they did, I’d missed it. I saw about a dozen of the birds fly from one of the big oaks and into another one, talking with each other as they flew.

When they quieted for a moment, other voices joined the concert. There was a high-pitched solo chirp quickly answered by a matching one, and a host of tiny tweets filled in the harmony.

I noticed other sounds, too. There was the buzz of an airplane, the hum of a fishing boat, the noise of one of my cats scratching on a tree trunk, and the rustle of wind moving through the trees.

Because I was paying attention, I started seeing things I’d missed, like how the blooms on the bridal wreath bush seemed almost to vibrate when the breeze blew through it. The Spanish moss floated back and forth in a swaying dance. Brown leaves tumbled over each other on the ground as I walked along, and new baby leaves on the once-bare branches waved and twirled in the wind.

I reached for my pedometer and I heard that whisper again.

“Don’t walk for a goal today,” it said. “Just move until your body says to stop.”

So, that is what I did, stopping at what turned out to be two miles instead of three. As I cooled down and stretched, I thought how nice it was to change my routine and to enjoy the different experience of walking without music.

At that moment, I remembered something I sang when I was a child and I realized I hadn‘t walked without music. In fact, I’d walked to the most amazing music that exists.

“This is my father’s world,

And to my listening ears,

All nature sings

And round me rings

The music of the spheres.