As a kid, I was unduly concerned with how radio stations get their sound to your radio. It seemed vaguely creepy – all that chatter and music flinging through the air – bouncing off and zipping right through me. Be still for a moment, and contemplate this: right now there are dozens or even hundreds of radio station signals passing through your body. Creepy, huh? I didn’t like it then, and though I’m a bit calmer about it now, I still feel restless about it sometimes.
Radio signals move through the air as vibrations. Ones that are beyond our limited ability to perceive. There’s an old joke about dental fillings picking up radio waves, but why can’t it be like that – why can’t we perceive the full range of vibrations all around us? If we could, the world would probably seem substantially different to us. I’m pretty sure we’re better off without that ability, though wouldn’t it be interesting? We have the limited, luxurious ability to perceive tones and vibrations in a specific range. And our abilities manifest in a variety of helpful and enjoyable ways.
As an amateur gym rat, I prefer to exercise using a tempo-based music track. I tune out as much as I can: the TV, the happy chatter and other distractions. I lower my cap over my brow, turn up the sound and repeat, repeat, repeat to the beat. It’s always worked for me, especially when I’m feeling less than prime. I easily slip into sync with the repetitive sounds and once on board, I’m a happy musical passenger. I’ve read that many pro athletes prefer no outside rhythm for their workouts. My understanding is that they are focused on the functions of their body, the flow of energy, the tempos and cadences of their form. Perhaps their ability to perceive inner rhythms and vibrations is more highly developed; perhaps it’s an innate gift. Maybe I’ll get there someday, maybe not. I know that my rhythms are there, it’s just that I can’t perceive them very well.
I think that music is not more noise in a noisy world. Rather, it’s that we can’t help but express what we sense. The talent of being a musician may lie in the ability to sense and make sense of the rhythms around them, as athletes can sense and listen to the rhythms within their own bodies.
I love the quote from Albert Camus, “The world is never quiet, even its silence eternally resounds with the same notes, in vibrations which escape our ears.” We all have access to the same vibrations. Our job and indeed our joy, is to respect and develop our senses to better perceive that which is around us.