Thursday, June 2, 2016


Beach Sounds, Wrightsville Beach, NC

Have you ever stopped the music, grabbed the nearest chair, put your life on rewind and just reflected about the soundtrack of your life? As life moves along we’re exposed to a plethora of sounds and many of them become woven into the tapestry of our being. They’re as much a part of our life as the familiar places and comfort food we enjoy. And all of the non-verbal sounds including instrumental music are part of the universal language in everyone’s life.

The obvious first impression is all the music that has shaped who you are and who you will still become. Early childhood music and songs still ring with nostalgia when you attend a children’s choir performance. Then there’s the popular music that became an obsession during our teen years. I grew to appreciate the Beach Boys, Bob Marley and James Taylor much more after we moved to the Carolina’s. That was followed by possibly more reserved jazz, classical or even alternative sounds. Our senior years hopefully are filled with a wide variety of music including the recall of old hymns to complete a life well lived. That certainly includes listening to the comfort music that conjures up many of our milestone moments and experiences of the past. In fact, last year marked the first time in U.S. history that catalogue albums out sold new releases. Nostalgia is in the air waves!

Then there are the voices of the past that always give us pause to reflect. Voices such as television anchors that we listened to for years and years during the dinner hour. Familiar voices of movie stars that we enjoyed watching in a variety of roles and emotional situations become as recognizable as those of close friends and family members. Actually, we still have the opportunity to listen to those voices that have been archived on celluloid film even more than those of folks that we actually knew in real life. Popular sportscasters were people that we also spent a considerable amount of time watching and listening to on radios and televisions. These people never knew us, but we were very familiar with them and their voices. Have you ever finally met a radio personality that you listened to for years and found that they didn’t look anything like the image you had in your mind?

The sounds of nature can be very unique to a time and place. I’ll always have an imprint of the piercing screech of a golden eagle soaring over a Rocky Mountain canyon, the taunting caw of a flock of crows hassling a red tail hawk in a grove of walnut trees, or the plaintive call of sea gulls as they glide along the edges of a windswept beach. I will always recall the lonesome sound of a loon at evening time across a placid moonlit Minnesota lake in late spring. Then there’s the distant gathering cries of migrating flocks of geese overhead on a chilly late autumn night as a cold front drives them south on a strong northerly wind. And I still have vivid memories of listening to coyotes calling from hill to hill around the family farm on a humid summer’s night in the central Kansas Flint Hills.

There are even inanimate sounds that enter into our lives like a comfortable pair of blue jeans. Who cannot feel nostalgic when hearing the distant whistle of a train in the dark hours of the night? And the sound of rain gently falling on a windowpane can really leave you in a melancholy mood. Water rushing down a rocky mountain stream and waves lapping onto a sandy beach never lose their calming effect. And neither does the sound of wind moving through the tall grass prairie or high country pine needles and rustling aspen leaves. The approaching sound of ominous thunder in the distance as it gains momentum always stirs up long forgotten fears buried deep within our prehistoric DNA.

We consciously and subconsciously find comfort and solace in all of these sounds as they complete the unique playlist for the soundtrack of a life.

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