…you’ve helped me along, makin’ me strong.
“Drift Away”, Dobie Gray, 1973
If you ask me, it is all about the rhythm. That doesn’t mean that I have a lot of it or that it comes naturally. A few years ago Barb and I took months of dance lessons from a very good dance instructor. I learned the mechanics well enough, right foot here, left foot there, give a little twirl. But when it came to Barb and I dancing the night away at Mike and Becca’s wedding, it took a drink or two before I felt the rhythm, making those steps feel natural.
Got to get the rhythm in sports too. I watched a few football games this weekend. Northwestern, trounced by Michigan, never had any rhythm at all. Every player seemed a step slow. In contrast, the Bears played in sync on Sunday, even when trailing. They made some mistakes and had to fight hard to win the game, but they had a rhythmic flow about them, and even commented about it in post-game interviews.
In tennis, got to get that beat going. When I don’t have it, I miss shot after shot, I am in the wrong place every time, I watch every ground stroke whiz past me. But then, if it is one of the good days, the rhythm starts to flow. It starts with a song bouncing around in my head. It might be a new song that I have just heard on the radio. Or maybe it is an old favorite from Bruce, or from Bono and the boys. I start to hum along, and my game starts humming too. The play slows down for me. I feel like every incoming shot is guided to my racket, every lob I hit just kisses the edge of the base line. I gain confidence at the net. My partner and I sync up, just like Torvill & Dean winning the gold. The feeling doesn’t last for long, and it doesn’t make up for my lack of skill, but it does remind me why I keep playing tennis.
Surprisingly, rhythm is part of writing too. Barb says she always recognizes anything that I have written, and I think that is because everyone writes with a rhythm as individual as a fingerprint. It’s more than the word choices or the subject matter. It’s the way the puzzle pieces fit together, different from how anyone else would have placed them. It is why a dialogue written by Aaron Sorkin or a song by Neil Diamond is so recognizable. When I write, I always try to be true to that rhythm in my head. Just as in tennis or dancing, I don’t always hear or feel it easily. I have learned that it can take a lot of rewrites to say what I want to say in the way that I want to say it. Back in the pre-computer age when I was typing term papers on my manual typewriter, I would really grumble about those rewrites. Good thing I wasn’t trying to write blogs then too!
On the house front (didn’t think I would get to that, did you) we have gotten the go ahead from the Homeowners Association! A few changes required, some costly, some not, but nothing that will slow us down. Now it is the hands of the Village to get us permits before the first frost hits. Pick up the rhythm; pick up the pace.
A good week to all of you.
Oh give me the beat boy and free my soul..gotta get lost in your rock’n’roll
And drift away