Saturday, September 25, 2010

Rhythms of Life

I was behind two other cars waiting for rush hour traffic to start moving again. The Boston Pops CD was playing the theme to Superman and I was in a trance, actually enjoying the commerce of industry barely moving along Federal Highway. It was 5:30 and so I had no other choice than to slow down, something I still find hard to do.

It's unusual to find something good about traffic delays; but the tempo of traffic matched the music of Superman, like a metronome beating out its slow steady rhythm. After a long wait, I was back on the road again inching my way home. As I turned on to Northeast 21st Avenue, a large red leaf scooted toward me flip flopping from side to side in natural cadence to another beat, this time up tempo. The interaction of musical phrasing coming from my car stereo matched the seagrape leaf as it kicked up one edge, then the other in perfect timing.

Rhythms are all around us, in speech, in clouds and violent storms. The cadence of living things seems to be orchestrated for the pleasure of some Superior Being, who, luckily for me, passes it on for our human delight. I see these musical rhythms on television commercials and in movies. In theater they're called beats. In literature quatrains or iambic pentameter. Fractals offer a rhythm in the repetitive design of shapes, be they clouds, shorelines or snowflakes, though these are soundless, they nevertheless have their rhythm.

Whether fractals, the jazzy dance of a leaf or the snails pace of traffic, all vie for our attention. There is a dynamic order to these measures of life. Watch a 15 second commercial and count out the beats you'll see or hear. It is the selfsame music that beats in all of us.

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