Some Lessons from Old Headphones and Older Buildings

If blogging required a license, I’m sure mine would be revoked by now. It’s been much too long since my last post and I don’t really have an excuse. All I can say is that sometimes the experiences you want to write about, the ones you know you have to write about have considerably long shelf lives in your mind before they start punching letters into the page.

So here’s the latest from my mind’s furiously fickle manuscript, sent reeling by some malfunctioning headphones and a very old, historically significant building.

I’ll start with the headphones.

The other day, during a run that had me feeling like a half-asleep fish out of water, my headphones kind of just gave up on me. They’re the complimentary ones you get when you buy an iPod and by estimation, they may be three or more years old. Being the cheap skate that I am, I refuse to replace them until they start sending electrical shocks into my ears (it’s happened before).

But these malfunctioning headphones, usually a nuisance and damper on an already struggle-bus kind of run, stopped working in the most brilliant way possible. They drowned out the lead vocals but amplified the sound of the background vocals and percussion.

These crucial parts of songs that I often pay little mind to had the center stage and they didn’t disappoint. I now know that Fitz and the Tantrums would be flat and empty without the Tantrums  and most Mike Posner songs, when forcefully stripped of that Euro-techno thing pop singers seem to love, are composed of layered lyrics that carry a lot more weight than the woeful whines passed out a plenty in the mainstream music industry.

My failing headphones will soon die martyrs, giving a voice to narrators of lesser known, yet equally important stories. But their accidental purpose is one carried out by some other exceptional people.

Now onto the really old building.

In the next few weeks, I’ll be helping my town complete a grant proposal for the rehabilitation of Jones Hall, a building positioned in the dead center of our very tiny downtown area. Jones Hall, which houses our library and a stage that is apparently illegal to dance on, was built between 1792-1801. It was used for all sorts of functions back in the day. However, since this building is no architectural spring chicken, Jones Hall has not entertained many guests as of late.

However, this morning I met some historical preservationists assisting us with the grant and after a tour of Jones Hall, they fell instantly in love with the musty, rusty, creaky building.

They locked eyes with graffiti on the walls dating back to D-Day and swooned. They sat on benches constructed in the early 1800’s and grew giddy. They brushed against curtains that blanketed many a small-town performer and smiled brightly.

They were dog-earing the pages of a story written centuries ago and meandering through beginning, middle, end with unshakable curiosity and admiration.

It’s possible my point has grown dusty so I’ll end this post with a little bit of advice, inspired by history and headphones.

No matter how small or unnoticed you may feel, you have to keep trailing raw, unfiltered experience all over your story. If not for you then for that small crop of flourishing readers who find new life in your manifesto of fluttering pages. So carve your mark, leave a trail of sloppy footprints behind, and keep giving a voice to this intricate web of experiences your tightly tangled in, even if you feel swallowed by the background because someone, whether by technological mishap or purposeful discovery, is listening.

Lend an ear and cherish your voice,




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