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Life's Rhythms

by Mark Gagnon 2 months ago in humanity
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We all travel to the beat of a different drummer, but it's really all the same song.

Life's Rhythms
Photo by weston m on Unsplash

We are all born with a natural rhythm. It controls our actions and thoughts from birth until death. I know this sounds like an oversimplification because everyone seems so different. Some people may sing like a nightingale or croak like a frog. Others move like they are walking on air while the rest of us dance as though we are wearing cement shoes. No matter where our talents lie, the beat is in us all. Let me explain.

From birth to preteens, a child moves to a twelve-eight beat. Life is a mystery that must be solved. Why walk when you can run? Learning to talk, tying shoes, discovering shapes in clouds, there’s so much to accomplish and the days are so short. The beat is fast, but the melody is in the key of C. There are no sharps or flats to complicate each day’s activities. Just a simple upbeat tune that’s easy to learn by. If there is a stanza that seems insurmountable, there is always someone older to help unravel the problem section.

Teenagers will gradually transition from their original twelve-eight pace to a six-eight beat. The back beat is still fast, but the melody has changed key from C to a B flat or F sharp. It’s all Rock and Roll with some Country mixed in. Their bodies and social experiences are changing. Life introduces sharps and flats to make the melody more complex. The backbeat may remain consistent, but the pressure to perform at a higher level increases. It takes time to master the changes. Some will struggle, and for an unfortunate few, their musical journey stalls. Others will embrace the change and deftly move ahead. Higher education in the form of college or learning a skill is where the beat will guide them.

In our twenties and thirties, the underlying back beat slows again to a five-four signature. The melody has become even more complex, mimicking elaborate classical compositions containing augmented seventh and diminished fifths. Adding an extra beat per measure enables us to fit just one more thing into an already intricate life. Marriage, children, financial and work demands, all muddle the true song. The pressure to learn this new and complicated composition seems relentless, but the melody hints at better times to come.

By our mid-forties and throughout our fifties, we transition to a steady four-four beat. The melody changes to smooth jazz, or blues. There are still sharps and flats, but they are more manageable. Our skills are now honed well enough to push through the hard parts without missing a beat. Life has taught us we are equal to most of its challenges, even the ones that seem insurmountable. Yes, smooth jazz and a smattering of blues is what this age group is all about.

Once into our sixties and beyond, we are waltzing in three-four time. The melody has once again simplified and is more relaxing than stimulating. The kids have grown and gone and it’s the grandkids who provide the melody. They remind us of what it was like to look at the world with wonder and excitement. Our children will occasionally refer to how we handled the more hectic times in their younger lives and laugh.

Like it or not, the waltz is where we all find ourselves, eventually. Memories from the different melodies are what will sustain us from this point on. Our individual songs may live on in our children and grandchildren for a time, but they are involved in writing their own tracks. The best we can hope for is that our composition will be the overture in their symphony.


About the author

Mark Gagnon

I have spent most of my life traveling around the US and the globe. Now it's time to draw on these experiences and create what I hope are interesting fictional stories. Only you, the reader, can tell me if I've achieved my goal.

Reader insights

Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

Top insight

  1. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

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