Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Frog Tripping

How did we ever survive this far without the MP3 player?

Tiny, compact and able to hold up to hundreds of songs, these gizmos are still technologically evolving. Not so long ago we were sportin’ the era-defining ‘WALKMAN’, then progressing to the ├╝ber-advanced personal CD player - we thought we were somethin’ else. All gadgets, now and then, played a crucial part in our exercise regime. Back then, we ensured that our red Walkman matched our leg warmers. Nowadays, the Walkman’s second-cousin, the credit-card sized MP3 player, is safely and discretely tucked away in tiny pockets. Able to block out the worldly sounds around us, they enable us to focus on our never-ending battle with the bulge. But is blocking out the world around us always for the best?

I am a walker/jogger/runner - serious enough to keep up a routine, but not serious enough to be striving for marathons. Working full-time by day, and playing referee between my two sons at night, means early mornings for me when the darlings are asleep. Not a soul is around and, depending on the time of year, the sun hasn’t even crawled out of bed yet. I prefer the fall and winter, when the darkness envelopes me in my own private sanctuary – the glowing screen of my MP3 player often the only light.

My eyes water in the brisk, frosty air. My hands chap despite pulling my sleeves down to my fingertips. Wearing mitts would help, but doing so would hamper my control over the MP3 player – and that would just not do. How else would I be able to change songs, turn up the volume, or monitor my time on the stopwatch function? I embarrass myself at the realization that many of the downloaded songs are exactly those I played on my WALKMAN (not) so long ago.

During my route around the nature conservatory park near where I live, I have watched the seasons change with every step along the graveled trails. The cat-tails depict summer. Leaves collecting on the ground tell me school is back in. The red-winged blackbirds protect their nests in the spring with their trill of onk-a-ree-onk. In the winter, not a sound can be heard – everyone is nestled in for hibernation-mode. But not me. My weather-dictated running/walking gear is my armor against Mother Nature’s mood swings, no matter what season. And still, my constantly faithful MP3 player keeps me in stride while I plod along oblivious to the world around me.

As I adjusted my earphones one early, puffy-eyed summer morning, the resident frogs interrupted my snail’s pace. A chorus of croaking, chirping and ribbit-ing surrounded me. Except for the winter when the little darlings were hibernating, I realized all these months they had been cheering me on; my own personal trainers.

And I had been missing it.

The ducks and geese barely waddled out of the way as I approached. Their own orchestra competed with that of the frogs. Had I been missing their melody as well? Were their harmonic reassurances telling me I really WAS doing something worthwhile, or were they quacking at me to give it up and go back to bed? I dared not plug back in the earphones; doing so would be disrespectful to both frog and mallard and their songs of encouragement.

For now, while I still don’t dream of gold medals at marathons, I occasionally ‘unplug’ and enjoy the reprieve from the inevitable busy world that has yet to wake up. I am thankful to the frogs for their morning chant, urging me on. My heartfelt gratitude goes to the ducks - even to the ones who won’t move out of my way. Even unplugged, however, I still hum a few 80’s tunes along the way. Rick Springfield anyone?


  1. I love this, Lisa!

    As an iPod addict myself, my own 80s playlist lets me tune out car traffic while I'm on my bike. I like it much better than tapes because, alas, my Walkman never matched my leg warmers.

  2. Dontcha just miss the 80's? But yes, much better than tapes, and fussing with drooping legwarmers and clunky buttons on the Walkman just would NOT be cool these days, while biking......because you know, we ARE cool!