Surfing a sea of music and memory

It's one of those days - the sky pulls scarves of white and grey across its blue, the last leaves on a tree in autumn fire flutter like impatient butterflies before a migration, a trace of salt blows up the hill on a sea wind - and there's house work to be done.

I grab a pot of coffee and a plate of sliced fruit, snag my laptop, and swing by the under-stairs to get the iron on my way to the immense pile of recently washed clothes. I connect my laptop to the hi-fi, plug in the wireless network card, type a few search criteria into my MP3 player, stand up the ironing board and finally hit the shuffle and play buttons. And get to work.

What has all this to do with each other? Well it's about preparing a space for contemplation, a time of mining for meaning and memory, and somehow ironing and listening to a semi-random sample of my music collection can consistently give that to me more than any other activity.

Why? First because music for me must be personal, untainted by the canned perceptions of MTV videos, the bare lines of literal lyrics or the meagre insights of the CD cover notes. A song is an encapsulated experience that you can re-live and re-interpret each time. A song is also a permeable moment; it affects the character of everything else that is simultaneously seen, heard or touched, while itself being felt and remembered with everything else that lives in the memory of that moment.

But why ironing? Because it adds a tactile quality and a minor rhythmic kinaesthetic dimension that substantiates the acoustic ambience of of music. Meanwhile my mind can float in a sea of memory, pulled here by a moment when a song played before, or tethered there by a vision of my wife wearing the item of clothing that I iron.

I'm reminded of the narrative at the end of American Beauty where Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey) ponders his own little life; like Lester, I am grateful just for the privilege of being, and even more grateful that music and the simple physical act of ironing can give me a perspective of timelessness that allows me to experience my own existence as a virtual eternity. My ironing board is my surfboard and I surf on the sea of memory, pausing to treasure some flotsam or jetsam, or to ride one wild wave again. Perhaps this is an activity I should save for my latter years, but I choose to do it now as a I balance on the tidal foam between blank youth and weathered age, only to ride on again to that endless golden beach on my horizon. Play on sweet music of memory, until I am myself only a memory. Now, time for a coffee!

music = ...; James MacMillan|Seven Last Words from the Cross; U2|Promenade; Annie Lennox|A Whiter Shade of Pale; Howard Shore|The Breaking of the Fellowship; Deep Purple|Child in Time; Enya|Storms in Africa; Juli/Perfekte Welle; DJ Shadow|Stem/Long Stem; Joe Jackson|Nocturne; Youssou n'Dour & Neneh Cherry|7 Seconds; U2|The Ground Beneath Her Feet; Bryan Ferry & Roxy Music|Angel Eyes; Dido|White Flag; Lloyd Cole & the Commotions|Brand New Friend; Leonard Cohen|That's No Way to Say Goodbye; Sugababes|Stronger; Lemon Jelly|Kneel Before Your God; OMD|Telegraph; Beethoven (Karajan & Berlin Philharmonic)|Symphony No. 5 in C minor. Op.67, II Andante con moto; Dire Straits|Private Investigations; Massive Attack|Teardrop; Morrissey|America Is Not The World; Aimee Mann|Save Me; Florence Joy|Consequence of Love; Phish|Billy Breathes; Amiel|Lovesong; Thomas Dolby|One of our Submarines; Paula Cole|Nietzche's Eyes; Tori Amos|Icicle; Tears for Fears|The Way You Are; tATU|All The Things She Said; Supergrass|Sofa (Of My Lethargy); Heaven 17|And That's No Lie, The Connells|New Boy; David Gray|This Year's Love; Cock Robin|When Your Heart Is Weak; Leftfield & Lydon|Open Up; John Coltrane|Sonny's Crib; Beethoven (Karajan & Berlin Philharmonic)|Symphony No. 5 in C minor. Op.67, III - Allegro; Gary Numan|Down in the Park (Piano version); Paul Oakenfold|Lovechild Gloria; Hans Zimmer|Hannibal - Vide Cor Meum; Sting|I Was Brought To My Senses; Go West|The King Is Dead; Red Hot Chilli Peppers|Scar Tissue, Alan Parson's Project|Sirius; Lou Reed|How Do You Speak to an Angel; Ronan Keating & Lianne Rimes|Last Thing On My Mind; Kate Bush|The Man With the Child in his Eyes;The Divine Comedy|When the Lights Go Out Over Europe; Alphaville|Forever Young; Destiny's Child|Jumpin' Jumpin'; Paul Simon|Slip Sliding Away; Del Amitri|Driving With The Brakes On; The Doors|Break On Through; Eric Serra|Remembering A Heart Beat; Prince|Vicki Waiting; Gorillaz|Clint Eastwood; ...

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