This morning, on my routine walk before work, I popped in my ear buds (popped not because it’s a jaunty word for placing them in my ears, but because these particular ones, my favorites, have small circles made of dark pink rubber that literally pop into place, an experience I find in and of itself motivating), and what should delight my ears but “Delirious,” by Prince. I enthusiastically dig in to my strides, feeling how fortuitous this song should come on to compliment the energy and spirit of this morning, my excitement about what’s ahead, to kick me into high gear, so to speak. I’m optimistic that whatever spirit guides that “random” selecting of songs for shuffle play on my iPhone is on my wavelength, holding out her own intention for my workout and my day.
So I’m a bit surprised when what follows is an old Ian and Sylvia song, “Down by the Willow Garden”. Ian and Sylvia are a folk duo from the 60s with earnest and resounding voices, whom I’ve listened to since I was young and played my parents’ even-then-old record albums. “Down by the Willow Garden” is a song in the voice of a young man who’s just murdered his date. He’s sad, but seems to offer no explanation or repentance; more a kind of bewildered observer’s account. “Spirit, where hast thou gone?” This morning, this tale feels to me like a metaphor for the self-destructiveness we all face.
But then, up again! “Sebastious” by Forro in the Dark—pulsing, playful, growly Brazilian dance music. It’s everything I can do not to stop walking and start dancing.
Soon, though, the risk of breaking out dance moves is gone because, oh my heart: Patty Griffin. “Faithful Son” is one that I don’t know as well, but I'm always moved by her soaring voice, her eloquent struggle with the contradictions life presents all of us. These words powered my steps with deep momentum:
I went to work, I worked all day
When I wanted to run, I stayed
I kept the promises I made
I kept the promises I made
As Johnny Cash’s “I Still Love Someone” came on, I started to wonder, what’s the algorithm here? What does the iTunes spirit (or really the software analyzing the elements of these songs that make them into a good listening stream) find as a commonality between these widly diverse songs? And it struck me: they all have a driving rhythm.
Like the daily rhythm of the life of the self-directed worker.
At Purpl, we believe in and foster the connection between creativity and productivity. And truly, as this fleeting playlist offered to me, art can both mirror and motivate life: the ups and downs we face; the diversity of our challenges and environments; the reflection it takes to experience, understand and persist; the inspiration and new perspective to learn and grow; and today, the drive we need to keep moving.