Thursday, June 26, 2008


Have you ever seen that person in the grocery store who sings along to the store's background music? Well, next time you do, stop and say "hi," because that person will probably be me.

Last week's trip to the grocery store found me in a silly mood, so I danced and sang along to the store's music. David, our four-year-old, thought it was great fun. I did too. In fact, I wasn't even aware that the grocery store played music. Totally unaware.

Yesterday found me in the same store again. I guess I wasn't in a silly mood because I wasn't dancing and singing in the store this time. I suppose I returned to my unaware state, because I didn't notice the music at all... at least until after I left. With children and groceries loaded in the car, I burst into a rousing rendition of Downtown. You'll likely sing along: "When you're alone, and life is making you lonely, you can always go - Downtown."

Is the song in your head now? It's back in mine!

For the Strength of Youth
I gave a fireside a few weeks ago on media and entertainment. I also spoke in church last week on the same topic. The primary source was the collection of standards presented in the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet. The section Entertainment and the Media (link) included the following:

"Whatever you read, listen to, or look at has an effect on you."

My presentations focused on the purpose for rules/standards with an emphasis on choosing carefully what we actively view, read, or listen to. I didn't consider the background aspects of each until the Downtown experience.

I recall a time a friend and I were looking for an address while driving. The music was playing—it was always playing—and I turned it down as I looked. My friend laughed at me and asked, "Why did you turn it down? You're looking with your eyes, not your ears."

Although I likely wasn't actively listening to the music that was playing—it was just background music—I turned it down for some reason as I focused on another task. I could pontificate about the influence of music, or the need for quiet when seeking direction, but I'll just remark that this experience was interesting to me. I still remember it.

Shortly after we were married, my parents loaned one of their cars to my wife and me. It was a 1973 Mercury Montego. A big, beautiful, old car. Loaning it was an example of kindness and compassion, but let's talk music. This car only had an AM radio. The combination of lacking modern music options and being newly married led us to not listen to music, but rather to spend time together on our travels talking, laughing, or just enjoying the scenery.

I'm happy to report that after surrendering the Montego back to my parents and with subsequent vehicles, the practice of not listening to music (much) has persisted. Instead of having to talk over the music, we can talk quietly from the heart. Instead of knowing the words to the popular songs of the day, my children know how to talk to their parents. Instead of feeling the need to have noise in our lives, we enjoy the quiet and peaceful (including the benefits of being able to hear the still small voice—which whispers!).

Are we missing out by not listening to much music? Perhaps.

Have we gained anything? Definitely.

Now, please note that we're not anti-music. We still love good music, and we like to sing and dance. Just look for us the next time you're at the grocery store.

I'll be the one singing and dancing in the produce section.

0 thoughts