There is a rhythm to life, heard in the stars, experienced in the regularity of the seasons, and felt in the steady pulse of the heart and those that catch it seem to be those most able to cope with life’s inevitable storms. Seasons come and go in a regular 4/4 rhythm, four beats to a measure, four beats to a year.
The rotation of the planets flows in an uninterrupted pattern, spinning to a beat established before man tread upon the earth. Migrations have been charted to the day, as swallows return to Capistrano and the Trumpeter Swans reestablish themselves in the fields and farmlands of the Northwest. The birds hear that rhythm when as one flock they will take flight and wing to the same locations that have called generations before.
There are those who hear this rhythm and yield to it. Our bodies seem to crave it, but many of us fight against it. When was the last time you were aware of the rise and fall of your chest as your lungs filled with air in a syncopated rhythm to the beating of your heart?
Athletes and yoga practitioners are aware of it, using it to improve their performance and endurance. But even if physical conditioning is not the goal, it seems there are those who have become so in tune with their bodies, their brain chemistry, and distinct personalities that their ability to respond to stressful situations is superior to our own. Somehow they take in the challenge, the change, the interruption to their normal cadence of life and refuse to allow it to control them. They might miss a beat but they will not lose the tune.
Cadence is a musical term for the flow of rhythm in verse or music. It is no coincidence that the military uses cadence to train troops. So perhaps it is a discipline that some of us lack, that ability to listen to the unique rhythm of our life and march to that drum beat while ignoring the most rapid beat of the urgent or that which measures the beat of another’s life. Perhaps we need to train ourselves to listen to the cadence beating in our own heart, even if it means slowing our pace just a little.