It seems the only place to start is with the obvious. This has been a difficult year, challenging. And while some things are looking up, others on the horizon are daunting. One thing we all have in common, our rhythm has been disrupted. Today, in this inner beauty post, let’s think about the beauty and importance of keeping tempo amidst the noise of an ever-changing world.
When I was taking piano lessons while growing up, my dear piano teacher would occasionally send me home from a lesson with her metronome, hoping, I’m sure, that I would come to my next lesson with a smoother, more consistent tempo on the piece of music that was challenging me at the time. A metronome, shown above, is a device used by musicians to help them play at a regulated cadence. You can set the device to issue a click or other sound at regulated intervals of your choice.
Musicians don’t use the metronome when they’re performing, of course. That’s why you may have never seen or even heard of one if you don’t play a musical instrument. But I’d assume that the most proficient and accomplished musicians own and use this device regularly when practicing, especially when they’re struggling with keeping the right tempo in a particularly challenging part of the music they’re playing.
Whether you’re usually an “on the fly” kind of gal or one who thrives on routine, your rhythms have probably been disrupted this year. Have any of the following changed for you in the last six months?
- regular, weekly lunch or breakfast dates?
- exercise options?
- grocery routines?
- church attendance?
- seasonal celebrations?
- family gatherings?
- work routines?
- daily commutes?
- interactions with your people?
- enjoyment of seasonal sporting events or participation?
- weekly or monthly gatherings with friends or social groups?
By themselves, these seem like little changes, insignificant even. But these are the routines that create the rhythms of our lives. The cumulative effect of losing or experiencing change in even a few of these habits is not unlike a musical train wreck.
I think the result of each of us experiencing such changes is somewhat like each member of an orchestra putting on sound cancelling headphones and then trying to play a piece of music together. Train wreck.
And while some things are beginning to return to “somewhat normalcy,” even those renewed activities have a different rhythm than before. We’ve had to learn new steps to old dances at the grocery store, church, social gatherings, the gym and work.
We’re coming back together, but we’re all out of step. We’ve been listening to our own music with headphones on too long and we’ve forgotten how to sing along in harmony with others. Some days we make good music with others. Other days it’s a struggle.
Amidst the Noise
It can be even harder to find your tempo once again when others are struggling to find theirs. If you’ve ever played in a band or orchestra or sung in a choir, you know that finding and keeping tempo amidst a group is even more challenging. There are always those who want to go faster and those who tend to drag. The louder instruments or voices usually “win.”
That’s why smart musicians keep their eyes on the conductor. He or she acts as the visual metronome for the group, setting the pace with the steady movement of her baton.
What All of This Means
I really didn’t mean to sound quite so contemplative and deep with this post. Ha! (I think it’s the classical music I’m listening to as I type. It’s moving me. LOL!) Let’s get somewhere with this.
I’m struggling these days to find my tempo. I’m out of rhythm. For instance, I’ve missed going to church weekly. And even though we returned to onsite worship services a couple of months ago, things are so different there that I still feel out of step.
We went to a fun party at the home of some friends last night. I loved it. But it still felt new and different and odd. There was no shaking of hands among the guys, hugging of necks among the gals. We sat far apart and wore masks and gloves as we served food. I’m so grateful for our hosts and the gathering did my heart good, but as we drove home I felt a little out of step with the world once again.
I’m so tired of struggling with this new rhythm. Aren’t you?
So I thought we’d simply talk a little about how we can learn to keep tempo amidst the changes and amidst the noise of all that’s going on in our world. And hopefully as we find our own rhythm we can also learn to harmonize with the world around us, too.
Tips for Finding & Keeping YOUR Tempo
I think the real key is simply to find and keep your tempo first. When we establish some steady and somewhat predictable tempos in our own lives, as much as possible, we’ll find that we can better stay in rhythm when we step out in to the world, turn on the television or get on social media. Otherwise, those same places create mayhem and confusion for us.
Here are the things I’m trying to do to establish my own tempo so I can keep it when I encounter changes in my world or other people who are struggling to find their own rhythm.
- Exchange whispers with God before sharing shouts with the world. Lysa TerKeurst coined that phrase when she founded the First 5 app, which I’ve been using for my daily quiet times. The concept is simply to spend the “first 5 minutes” of your day in Scripture and with God. I find that prioritizing my time with the Lord this way is critical to setting the rhythm of my day.
- Move daily and exercise routinely. I try to get out for at least a short walk every single day. Moving coupled with fresh air and sunshine clears my head. But I also get in three strength training workout and two full-on cardio workouts each week. These keep me feeling strong and able-bodied.
- Use a to-do list. I’ve not always used a daily to-do list, but I’ve returned to the practice recently. Otherwise, without the familiar routines of the past, I can start feeling anxious about the day. Just writing down the things I need to do helps take away some of the overwhelm.
- Keep some daily routines. I’m also trying to start my work, stop for lunch and end my work day at the same times each day. Working from home provides freedom to do those things whenever I want, but I find I feel mentally and physically healthier when I work on a schedule.
- Set up new weekly and monthly interactions with people. It’s time y’all. Many of us have lost the weekly lunches, Bible studies, game gatherings, worship opportunities and other social outings we once enjoyed. And if we re-engage it will certainly be different. But it’s time for me to make the effort. I’ve been doing some of this already, but I’m starting to make a more focused effort of engaging with others socially. I’m beginning a new Bible study this week with ladies in my church and I’m going to set up some monthly coffee dates. These will be good for the rhythm of my soul.
These little daily rituals and habits are working like a metronome to help keep my emotions tempered, my anxiety at bay and my spirit more generous and gracious. Of course, like a metronome, these simple activities can’t keep me in tempo alone. I’m also practicing deep breathing at times, memorizing some scriptures that settle my soul and trying to talk through things with my husband.
What about you? How are you regaining the tempo of your life?
Do you have thoughts you’d like to share about today’s topic? I’d love to hear from you today! I tend to take as much time off from work as I can during the weekends, so I may not reply to your comments unless you ask me a direct question. But I’d love for you to carry on this conversation in the comment section below. And you can know for certain that I read and value each and every comment. Please remember that I try to keep this space free from controversy, so let’s stay away from the topic of politics or other divisive issues.