What is the beat? It’s not so much that no one really knows what the beat is. It’s more likely that they don’t appreciate or expect its existence. When it arrives if it even does, it comes as a total but welcome surprise. As you can probably tell when it doesn’t manifest itself; that bad things occur when the beat doesn’t, well, beat.
Define the beat: The Beat is that pervasive and hasty moment in our lives that offers us another look, another opportunity to do any number of things hopefully better. The beat is situational; occurring across a wide spectrum of human everyday life activities and emotions.
The beat is both the yin and the yang; it can be violent and yet it can also be non-violent. The beat is equally loving and hateful; helpful and hindering. The beat can offer a kind word and in the process build a channel of friendship that if cultivated can last a lifetime. Or, the beat can ridicule, defame and exacerbate, burning quickly any societal bridges deftly to the ground.
And did I say that the beat is situational? My beat soundly struck yesterday on the job. A coworker emailed me to ask if I could provide any information on what her department did last year, long story short. Now I quickly, and rather wittily I thought, fired back an email explaining how it was her and her department’s responsibility to keep record of their activities and not my obligation; an email that in hindsight I realized no one would understand or find as clever as I did while writing it.
I woke in a cold sweat of terror last night, going over my day’s activities in my mind; a practice to offset any issues that may have arisen and at the same time escaped my notice. But then I realized that I hadn’t sent the reply. Rather, I’d sent it to my Drafts folder. The beat had struck and I wasn’t even aware at the time that it had done so.
My beat came during my work day but other people may have their beat occur in different parts of their daily existence. Husbands may experience the beat when they come home and their dinner isn’t ready or their wife is too tired for sex. Mothers may find themselves at the dance when their children act out and she has a headache. Politicians hopefully will read the score and find the best beat before making any ridiculous pronouncements solely for the sake of votes.
Sometimes though, the rhythm of the beat is an elusive one. It’s something akin to Brubeck’s intricate Take Five; a lot of extra on the basic four-four time of life. And the rhythm of life is all around us; at times raucous and reverberating while other times it’s smooth, silky and subtly insinuating. Hopefully, we each can find life’s beat in either real time or in 20/20 retrospection before the music dies or someone else does.