Music & Mindset

Music is an art, but it can also be a tool.

I never exercise without music. A good fast beat can energize me and get me pumped for my workout. I also enjoy calm music or scores when I have to focus on writing or reading.

Since I was a teenager, music has been a tool that I use to set my mood. If I’m feeling down, an upbeat song can make me happier. If I need to calm down for some reason, I always turn to my favorite indie band, Death Cab for Cutie, to make me feel relaxed and slow my breathing. I often listen to them on a plane when I trying to fall asleep and block out the noise.

I set the pace and intensity of a workout by the playlist I choose that day. A harder, rougher sound motivates me to push myself. A lighter tone can be good to get my heart rate up while I do cardio. I have a few playlists on my phone that I am always using, but occasionally I like to shake things up and use something created by Spotify. I can always change it during a rest while I’m working out if its not my jam.

Music can also motivate me when I’m not feeling up for a workout one day. I set the music to more upbeat pop or my favorite genre — emo/punk. By the end of the first song, my mood is usually elevated and I feel more confident about what’s to come.

Even as I write this entry, I’m listening to a selection of scores, mostly from shows and movies. I prefer shows lately, because movie soundtracks can be too iconic and well-known to blend into the background. At this moment, I picked scores from the shows Arrow and Supergirl. Arrow tends to be darker and grittier in its tone, while Supergirl is lighter and more hopeful. I don’t really notice when they are playing, but it helps me concentrate and get into the flow state while I write.

I mostly use speakers to play my music, both in my home gym and in my office. In my gym, I have a Google Home Max speaker that wirelessly plays Spotify off my phone. I can control it by voice, so I don’t have to fiddle with my phone if I’m in the middle of something. My office speaker is a Marshall bluetooth speaker that sits on my bookcases. I’m not a stickler for sound quality, so I can’t tell you which one is better. Both serve their function, which is what I care about most. If I’m out and about shopping or walking, I use either my Bose headphones or earbuds by Skullcandy. Again, I’m looking for features unrelated to sound quality. I use the Bose mostly on airplanes or if I’m in a coffee shop working. The earbuds are mostly used to listen to podcasts while I’m shopping.

I hope you consider your relationship to music while working out or going about your lives. It has been a major component of my life, and I wouldn’t be able to function without it.

Body Made Flesh

My hands are my favorite feature.  Long and slender, they spread between me and the world.  They have grown callus, touching and touched my hardship and resistance.  They are my lifeline to this world. 

My eyes have seen only a fraction.  Once twisted and warped by chemicals beyond my control, they were set right and aligned to view the world correctly again.  They still blur at the edges, creating clouds on sunny days, but I’ve learned to ignore the clouds and appreciate the sunshine.

My muscles have grown strong, pulled and pushed over a few years of hard work and sweat.  They scream at me from time to time but yield to my desires and become shaped to my goals.  They are a work in progress, in a process that will last the rest of my life.  I’m a clay yet to be sculpted. 

My skin hangs from my bones, yearning to be set free.  I wish to part with my flesh, change my body to fit myself. 

My feet are long and tired.  They make me an octopus when I walk, clinging to surfaces for better traction.  They have been broken and reset, made to hold me up, tall and proud.  They are my fractured foundation.

I am my body, at times.  Some days, I’m freer than my body.  Some days, I’m trapped in a flesh unwilling to adapt to my will.  I struggle to see the good in a body, the worth of flesh, the physical being contained in a cage of its own making.  I do not wish to rid myself of this cage but make it better with time and effort.  I am stronger than these irons bars that hold me.  I’ll reshape this cage into a being of my own making.  A self-made man.  I’ll create myself anew and walk among the world a new man.


I wrote this prose poetry piece the other day and I’d thought I’d share it here. I have an evolving relationship with my own body. I’m working out more and trying to shed pounds I gained in lockdown. I’m excited for this new chapter in my life.