The Music of Life: Or, An Ode to the World

Erika Petrelli
Erika Petrelli

I was thinking recently about how two of my favorite sounds in the world are completely different. The first is the sound of birds singing and chirping—particularly the spring birds in the early morning. The second is the sound of an Indy race car as it speeds around the track. I love both of these sounds so much. Yet one is so gentle and the other is so strong. It seems like they should be in opposition to each other. But in reality I think they are examples of the stunning beauty of this world, and how that beauty is at once gentle and strong. We need both. I need both.

I need the soft and gentle sounds of the birds chirping because that sound literally calms my body down and relaxes my chest. Their songs slow my breathing and remind me to take a moment to look around. To feel the breeze, explore the sky, study the trees. They ground me in the reminder to “walk as if you are kissing the earth with your feet.” The birds help me find my center.

And the race cars! Oh! That sound! I need the powerful sound of the Indy cars because I can feel my body start to strum with excitement when I even get a passing hint of it. And sitting at the track itself is like a jolt of electricity. There is something about that sound that makes me feel fearless. Like anything’s possible. It’s life on FULL throttle. The race cars remind me that I am awake.

I am just so grateful for a world that offers me both morning birds and race cars. It makes me want to open my arms wide open and say I LOVE YOU WORLD! 

I had a moment where I thought: “Oh, Erika, this should have been an Earth Day post, silly”… but the truth is, even though I love this world, and am so grateful for it, I don’t always show it how much. I sometimes forget to recycle or I drink from a Styrofoam cup, and I let the plants in the backyard die and I leave the kids toys neglected on the yard which makes the grass turn yellow. I don’t drive an energy efficient car. I confess to leaving the lights and water on for too long. I forget to pay attention. I wish I could fully show the world how much I appreciate it, but alas, things get in the way. 

So instead, this is an ode to the wild and wonderful music that this world has to offer, if we’re listening closely enough. Because in that music is life itself.

So, there is a gentleness in the morning birds and a strength in the race cars. There is also beauty in the gentle whoosh of the wind, especially when I feel it alongside a rising or setting sun. There is joy in the echoes of the children’s laughter that ricochets off the trees as they play on the playground and which tickles my chest with lightness. There is kindness in the babbling of the water in the creek that offers itself up for stomping and rock skipping. There is curiosity in the crackling of the campfire that begs us to roast marshmallows and get sticky with s’mores. There’s a striving in the satisfying crack! of the bat when it makes contact with the baseball. There is comfort in the absence of sound—the hush—that falls over the land after a hearty winter snowfall, which dazzles me with its pure sparkling possibility. There is depth in the symphony of city sounds that mingle together amidst the horns and sirens and voices and construction and street music and commerce. There is excitement in the moment when 22,000 voices come together in unison to sing with their favorite band. There is nostalgia in the far-off sound of a chainsaw, perhaps building something new, or a lawn mower, offering a fresh start. There is pure love in the sound of the ocean crashing onto the shore, finding home.

Back in January I shared one of my favorite Alan Watts’ speeches about the journey of life, and how life is “a musical thing” and that we are supposed to “sing or to dance while the music is being played.”  And it occurs to me that if we are really paying attention to the music of life that is all around us, and tapping into the particular sounds that fill us, we realize that the world is inviting us—no, insisting… pleading with us—to dance. And given all the beauty that lives within that music, how could we say anything but yes?

How can you say yes to the music of life that fills and surrounds you today?

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Wings & Whimsy Challenge: Howl

Challenge: Read this post from my beloved, Brian Andreas
over at StoryPeople:
-want-know-magic/. Once you've read it, think about the "you
that hears the music in raindrops & the sound of sunlight &
the secret whispers of the rocks & trees. This is the you that
has never forgotten that magic is at the heart of the world."
What does that mean for you? Tell me about it in the
comments below, or tweet it to me @ErikaPetrelli1


Erika Petrelli

By Erika Petrelli

Erika Petrelli is the Senior Vice President of Leadership Development (and self-declared Minister of Mischief) for The Leadership Program, a New York City-based organization. With a Masters degree in Secondary Education, Erika has been in the field of teaching and training for decades, and has been with The Leadership Program since 1999. There she has the opportunity to nurture the individual leadership spirit in both students and adults across the country, through training, coaching, keynotes, and writing. The legacy Erika strives daily to create is to be the runway upon which others take flight. If you enjoy these blogs, you should check out her interactive journal, On Wings & Whimsy: Finding the Extraordinary Within the Ordinary, now available for sale on Amazon. While her work takes her all around the country, Erika calls Indiana home.