When was the last time you really listened to what was going on around you? As I was leaving the office yesterday, I noticed, for what seemed like the first time, that we have music playing in our elevators. I was a bit surprised that this came as a revelation to me. After all, I love music – even play a little on occasion – and I had completely missed the sounds around me. Why was that?
On the ride home, I really started to think about the role that music plays in our lives. Music is everywhere around us. Think about a typical day. Your alarm clock goes off, set to your favorite radio station. You watch the news while getting ready for work – every show has a theme song. You ride to work – music in the car. You get to the office – music in the elevator, music on your iPod at your desk, music in the car going to lunch, music at the restaurant, music at your desk again, music again in the car on the way home.
You get back home – your wife has music on in the kitchen, there’s music on the “Spongebob” episode your kids are watching, music on the “American Idol” episode you watch after dinner (although the quality of that music might be up for debate this year – that’s a topic for another time). Music again on the news you watch at night, music in the Xbox game you play after your family goes to bed, music on the TV as you go to sleep.
You are SURROUNDED by music all day, every day. Music permeates our lives. Why is that? Partly, it’s because music helps us define who and what we are, and we are thinking. Have you ever watched a deleted scene from a movie, without the music? It’s a completely different experience. Music is the touch point in film and TV that sets the mood. It tells us if we should be scared, should be worried, should be inspired, should laugh. Without the music, the images that we watch would only be flat experiences.
Music is also a store of memory. A song can instantly take you back to another place, another time. Every time that I hear Bon Jovi’s “Slippery When Wet” album, I am back to Christmas, 1988. I can SMELL the living room, and see the brand new tape player I got. I listened to “Slippery When Wet” on that tape player incessantly for the next two years, and it bonded that time in my life to those songs. The sites, the sounds, the smells, the feelings – everything is forever linked for me.
It’s easy to miss the music that surrounds us. It’s easy to take it for granted – and that would be a shame. Can you imagine what it would be like without music? Can you hear the void that would be left in our everyday lives? It’s a thought that frightens me.
So, pay attention to what’s going on around you. Don’t just go through each day, stumbling from one moment to the next, unengaged and unaware of the soundtrack that accompanies you. Appreciate the layer of color that music brings to your day. Take the time to LISTEN to your life. You might be surprised how much you hear.
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