As the temperature finally cools down and the weather gets a little bit more dreary, I find myself anxiously awaiting the slow transition to darker days as seasons begin to change. I am a lover of all four seasons; after a few months enjoying the weather I find myself eagerly awaiting an upcoming change. These transitions throughout the year help my brain remember what is coming up next, and remind my body that nothing is constant – just when I have finally gotten used to stepping outside into a heat box and sweating buckets while walking down the stairs, I step outside and suddenly find myself needing a jacket.
There is something about stepping outside into the chilly air that makes my mind instantly think of winter. No matter what time of year it is, a morning run where I find myself needing a jacket and light gloves will instantly make me wish I was inside sitting by the fire, watching snow through the window and drinking hot chocolate.
It’s amazing how much our mind recognizes our surroundings and associates them with things that are common during these times. Something special happens when we step outside on a chilly morning; when the sun has still not quite risen all the way, and suddenly I find myself appreciating the silence and noticing the sounds of the outdoors more than usual.
I used to be so excited to get my headphones set up and start blasting upbeat music in my ears. I’d motivate myself to get out the door on my long runs only because I wanted to listen to the playlist I created just for that run. The music would be upbeat and loud – everything I needed to feel motivated and excited to be outside running
It seems that at some point throughout the course of these past 6 years, it became too much of a hassle to get my headphones situated for a short run. I’d leave them behind when I was only going out for a few miles, and save the jams for my long run when I’d really need them. Slowly but surely, I started leaving my headphones behind more often (more out of convenience than anything), until one time I finally noticed that I hadn’t listened to music on any of my runs that month.
I hear of people who try to force themselves to run without music every once and a while, and wonder how in the world I came to do this on a regular basis. I can’t remember the last time I brought music on a run; even a double digit run with no company, I still spend the time in silence.
But do you know the even crazier thing I realized?
I actually like it.
We don’t realize how much of our day is spent with constant stimulation: bright lights from our computer or phone screens, blaring the radio in the car on our commute, turning on the television while we cook dinner, or listening to music while we work. It seems that it is more challenging to get away from all of the sound than it is to be a part of it.
Never did I leave my headphones behind because I wanted some time in silence, but it is amazing how much I crave that time now that I’ve started doing it.
As I started my usual route around the neighborhood yesterday, it was a little darker because the sky was cloudy and we were supposed to get rain that evening. The air felt especially crisp and it seemed that the humidity had finally left us. I could hear the crunch of leaves beneath my feet and sounds of dogs barking in the distance. My thoughts were clear to me and I was able to work through some things that had been on my mind lately. I returned home with fresh ideas that I wanted to write down, more focus than I had had yet that day, and renewed motivation to get working on some projects.
Even without music, I find myself so caught up in my own thoughts that sometimes I return from a run having no idea what my surroundings actually looked like, or jumping three feet in the air at the sound of a dog bark. There is something to be said about taking a minute to notice the sounds of our ever day life: your neighbor’s mower creating freshly cut grass, the wind blowing the leaves on the trees ahead of you, the crunch of crisp leaves beneath your feet, the constant padding of your shoes hitting the pavement, the steady sound of your breathing, or cars whirring by on a busy road. The sounds we hear ever day of our lives that mean we are alive, yet never really remember at the end of the day.
The sounds of nature as the seasons change and we step foot into the next chapter of our lives. These sounds provide a meditative quality, and truly refresh our minds when we do them the honor of noticing them.
Whether your music keeps you motivated, or you don’t even own a pair of headphones, take some time on your next run to focus on being present in your surroundings. Observe the beautiful world that you get to run through, and notice the sounds of the seasons. Listening to something other than your thoughts will refresh your mind and spirit for the season that is to come.