When my sister and I were in college, Dad would always warn us not to “be that girl”. Nooo, not THAT that girl. There is NO way Mr. Em Em Dub would talk to Big Sis and me about The Es Eee Ex. No. Way. What he meant was don’t be oblivious. Just about once a semester a story would make the news about a college girl walking back to her dorm alone, only to be attacked or worse. The details seemed to always be the same – she was on her cell phone or listening to music, oblivious to her surroundings. Dad would recant the story to us and say “Be aware, girls. Use common sense. Know what is going on around you, and you’ll be less of a target.” Being the respectful, obedient, angelic daughter that I was, my reply was always “Dad, I know. I’m not an idiot. Duh.” …or something to that effect. And up until this week, I thought I was right.
I found myself in the middle of Iowa with a dead iPod and 6 days ahead of me. Upon discovery that said iPod decided to take an unauthorized leave of absence, I panicked. Have I ever mentioned that I cannot exercise without music? My workout either thrives or belly flops based upon the music. If my spin instructor decides to play some house techno that I can’t sing to, my thighs immediately shrivel up because they know the next hour is gonna SUCK. If dear Slayton swaps out Lady Gaga for Coldplay during Body Pump, I seriously consider hurling my dumbbells at him and storming out. So it’s not surprising that as I’m walking out the door and find the tunes of i not working, I contemplated a full-on temper tantrum right there on the in-laws front stoop. However I am a lady, so I sucked it up and started running. I was after all in Iowa, where not eating seconds is considered un-American, so I knew the week would bring its own challenges already.
What I discovered sans-music was twofold. One: I can hear people. Two: I can HEAR PEOPLE!! Number one brought on total paranoia as I wound my way along an unfamiliar bike path through fields, under bridges and alongside junkyards. Every time I would hear the slightest sound, I envisioned an attacker coming up from behind and the various Kung Fu moves I would rain down upon him. A couple of times, an elderly person would pass me in the opposite direction and I would literally run backwards until they cleared the bend for fear they would start following me. And what? Beat me to death with their hearing aid? I was never this jumpy when I shut out the world around me. These “sounds” of footsteps or someone clearing their throat were foreign to me, and I didn’t like it one bit.
The second discovery was different. As a runner, there is always a bit of awkwardness as you pass someone. Do I nod? Wave? Grunt? Totally ignore them? Hey, why did that chick totally ignore me? As I shimmied along, I kept thinking how friendly people in Iowa were, with their eye contact and all. The Santa-beard man on the bike sang a jaunty “Merry Christmas” as we passed near the library. A young woman with a dog said “Oh! It’s nippy isn’t it?” And the adorable older couple waved with a “Good Morning!” Each day, I got to know friendly faces and the exchanges were longer, more meaningful. I considered that maybe this is how it is every time I pass someone, yet I’m too distracted by Eminem and his laments to notice.
So maybe Dad’s warnings weren’t so far off. I’m not saying he’s RIGHT and I was WRONG (and don’t you dare, either). But perhaps I could turn down the tunes a bit and be more aware. It’s safer, it’s friendlier and most notably – it’s doable. My workouts were just as strong and effective. My legs didn’t turn to stone and my heart didn’t stop.
So my challenge to you, if you are a devout music listener like I am, is to try your next workout without it. Listen to your breath, the birds, or the rhythm of your feet hitting the treadmill. You might just make a new friend. Whatever you do though, keep those Kung Fu kicks sharp. You never know when they will come in handy. Hi-ya!
In case you are interested, here are the Top 10 songs on my iPod right now:
- Love You Like a Love Song – Selena Gomez and the Scene (don’t be hatin’)
- Price Tag – Jessie J
- Hair – Lady Gaga
- Run-Run-Run – Natasha Bettingfield
- F**ing Perfect – P!nk (sing it, sister!)
- Marchin On – OneRepublic
- What You Know About Little Secrets – The White Panda
- ‘Til I Collapse – Eminem & Nate Dogg
- 18 Wheeler – P!nk
- How Great Thou Art – Carrie Underwood (random, I know. But her rendition is so powerful, I feel invincible. Even if you aren’t a believer, after hearing Carrie….like Walkin’ In Memphis, “Ma’am I am tonight“.)
*thanks to tvrage.com for the opening image