Decompressing

Yesterday was a day on the run. My feet didn’t stop moving until sometime after 9pm last night and L was finally asleep. When I sat down, I felt like I was still moving, and my mind was jogging at a pace I couldn’t keep up with (which doesn’t say much). So I just sat there on the couch, holding our 2 month old, breathing and trying to step on the brakes. I find decompressing to be a difficult thing. I’m always anticipating the next thing to the fault of not fully being present in the moments I find myself in. Sometimes I catch myself not really breathing at all. Instead, settling for the short, choppy breathes in my upper-chest that leave one feeling tense and rushed.

Then, Emily came and sat down beside me and at first I was too busy thinking about myself (not being able to decompress mostly) and feeling too unsettled to interact with her. Then as I got a grip on my interior I asked her a question. “What’s your favorite song?” She protested at the difficulty and vastness of the question, but was obviously willing to play along. So I revised it, “What song is a timeless song for you, something you can listen to anywhere anytime and appreciate its beauty?” This appealed more and the wheels started turning. After awhile she responded, “Fire and Rain” and then went on to explain her reasons (all of which were interesting). I don’t think I would have ever picked this song for her, though I know she loves James Taylor and I even find the record sitting beside the player every so often after work. We talked for a good hour about music and then we moved onto favorite literature. At one point while I was sharing my favorite(s) I got up and turned on “Boots of Spanish Leather” on the record player. It was peaceful sitting there with the woman I have loved for ten years and talking about familiar topics, in familiar ways, and yet still discovering new things about her. As I sat there sipping tea, dipping in and out of conversation and silence, learning about things she loves, and enjoying her presence, I found myself completely relaxed and at peace. I was pulling breathes from deep in my diaphragm. I’d like to decompress like this everyday.

So what about you? “What song is a timeless song for you, something you can listen to anywhere anytime and appreciate its beauty?”

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Wess

...is the William R. Roger Director of Friends Center and Quaker Studies at Guilford College in Greensboro, NC., PhD in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary, served as a "released minister" at Camas Friends Church, and father of three. He enjoys sketchnoting, sharing conversation over coffee with a friend, listening to vinyl and writing creative nonfiction.

4 thoughts on “Decompressing”

  1. Wess,
    I like this — you could have said — ‘i need to be alone, relax, get my thoughts together’ — but by asking about Emily’s song, you created a whole new reality — by the time you ‘re-entered’ you were in a different state. Very cool.

  2. Ryan, many times I have said the other thing, it’s easy to withdraw after a long day! It was Emily who pointed out to me later that the “query” I had offered had moved us to a different place.

  3. man, that really is a difficult question to answer…but i think for me it has to do more with my musical “awakening” which smells of nostalgia rather than material. That being said, I think I’d have to go with “undone (the sweater song)” by weezer. It has that grit that continues to flow through the music of my choice at different periods of time and always takes me back to the onset of what music really means to me. It’s too bad that they stopped making good music after their “pinkerton” album.

  4. Great question.

    For me it’s Coltrane’s version of Say It Over And Over Again from the Ballads album. It’s a mid tempo ballad, so I’m almost never “not” in the mood for it. It’s also such a rich, beautiful and simple performance. All the Coltrane characteristics are there, but he’s really doing nothing other than just playing the song – no fireworks, no theatrics.

    It’s like resting while someone else meditates for you…

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