I have been thinking a lot about rhythm lately. For those of you who know me, you probably laughed when you saw this blog title. When we think of rhythm, we usually automatically think in musical terms and start describing things in terms of beat, timing, and so forth. When it comes to musical matters I am fairly challenged. I can USUALLY sing a melody line (though not always) and when it comes to the rhythm, it is a victory if I clap on the right beat!
I did a bit of informal polling and asked the question: “Is rhythm inborn or learned?” Most folks said it was inborn in certain people but that others are woefully under-endowed. Very few responded that it could be learned.
But there are many other kinds of rhythm. For instance, when I am building a box, I normally use a sandpaper stick to clean up the rabbeted edges on the box lid. I don’t really count the strokes but try to sand a similar amount on each side of the lid. I was working away doing that recently and it occurred to me that the sequence of my sanding strokes where like this: ******* ******* ***. I realized there was a certain sound to the cadence and I counted the strokes. Every single time there were 7 strokes, 7 more, and then 3. 17 strokes total every single time! I had never made up the cadence to control the count and I had never counted them before yet there was a controlling rhythm at work.
Many faiths emphasize 6 days of labor and then a day of rest. That is a rhythm! When we ignore that natural (and I believe God-given) rhythm we do so to our own detriment.
When we take the time to read, pray, worship, meditate, converse with people we love, or relax over a challenging book that is a form of rhythm, a counterpoint to our overextended, crazy lives.
Rhythm is also a graphic design principle that is taught in art schools but only artists seem to know about it. One way to create unity on a page design is to repeat certain elements in a particular pattern.
Dictionary.com’s 4th definition speaks to this principle. Here is their explanation:
So the more I think about it, I think rhythm IS inborn in EVERYONE. It just takes different forms. I would encourage you to explore the pace of your life and your passions. If everything is full of crashing crescendos from the percussion section without the quiet lilt of a piccolo, you need to rediscover a rhythm that will feed your soul.