I see the pain on their faces. I can see and faintly smell the sweat. I see the physical struggle to do more, be more. Others are talking, laughing, and generally socializing – some for a few seconds, others for long periods of time.
I can feel the vibration through my body of someone dropping heavy weights on the floor. The expressions on the people’s faces vary with what it is they’re doing. I see suffering, grimacing expressions that give way to relief, followed by gratification, some to the point of a smile.
I can see it all, but I can’t hear them. I’m listening to my own personal music with headphones filling my ears. My body is there, but I’m not there. The music has taken me someplace else.
Sometimes it takes me back in time to revisit places I’ve been and people I’ve known. Often the only place they remain are deep inside. I experience the same emotional expressions on the inside that I see on the faces of the others in the gym through the music.
Sometimes I grimace on the inside of my soul with regret of something I or someone else has done… and the beat goes on.
Often I feel relief from that forgiven pain inside that’s similar to the pain on the outside. I’m stronger on the inside, similar to how we can grow stronger on the outside with each beat. Other times I think about the present life and all the actions that have brought me here.
I smile as I struggle on the outside pushing myself through pain for the benefit of my body, and the music carries me. Then there are times when I contemplate the future. What will life look like down the road? How will our children turn out? I will be older, but will I be old? The music pushes me along.
Here I am surrounded by people in a very public place… and yet I’m all alone. What I can feel in that moment is foreign to where I am. I board the mental cruise ship and meander the waters of a past, present, and a future life powered by the motor of the music that locks me inside by myself.
The music plugged in from the outside has sealed me inside my mind. The only thing that can save me is a changing song or someone approaching on the outside.
Specific times call for us to to hit rewind, to be stuck inside a song that is stuck in time retelling our story. The lesson is needed, so is repeated over and over to remain trapped in time while real time slips ahead.
I think God can use many things in life to teach and remind us. Music and technology are but two.
While I would never condone living in the past, I believe our past, when remembered and understood, can be the map used to navigate life in the jungle of our minds that translates into avoiding being lost in real time.
We might need to unplug from real time and all the distractions to travel back to when we learned the lessons that can be applied to our lives every day. Sometimes from that distant perspective the narrow path that can be sometimes difficult to see becomes ever so clear.
I see them approaching, I reach up, grab the line of the headset and pull it off. I hold it in my hand. “How ya doin'”?! he asks. I pause, regather my thoughts from far, far away, wipe the sweat from my forehead with the sleeve of my left forearm and answer, “I’m good”! – “How you doin'”?!
I don’t tell them where I’ve been, they think I’ve been there the whole time. I was in a place no other person can go.
I think I’ll visit again real soon…
As long as my heart beats… The beat goes on…