Sunday, October 9, 2011

Singin’ in the Brain

Having grown up in the Baptist church, I know a lot of hymns. Most of the time I’m grateful to have the classic words rumbling around in my subconscious, to have the old melodies humming just below the surface. But sometimes having all those lyrics in my brain works against me.

Not long ago I was in a meeting with one of the men from my company’s upper management. It was a very small gathering, just four of us around a table. I sat directly across from the man making the presentation. The company I work for is a Christian ministry and the man was talking about the kind of “culture” our organization should have.

He said, “Love and grace should be the anchor of our organization.”

That did it. Next thing I know my mind is off on its own little rabbit trail trying to remember the words to “We Have an Anchor.”

“Will your anchor hold, dum, de-dum, dum, dum.” What is it? “ . . . in the” something “of life.” Is it “storms of life”? I think so. “Will your anchor hold in the storms of life.” That fits.

Before long I remembered I was still in a meeting. Focus, Becky, focus. But after a minute the man speaking said “anchor” again, so it really isn’t my fault that I launched back into my silent word search.

“We have an anchor that”—um, is it “keeps”? I think so. “. . . keeps the soul. Steadfast and sure while the ages”—no, not ages—“billows roll. Fastened to the rock which cannot move.” Is that right, cannot move? I “cannot” think of anything else. That makes sense—oh, wait, I should get back to the meeting.

So I struggled to focus on the man across the table. It’s not that he wasn’t interesting—he’s one of the most dynamic people in our organization. But my mind can’t help making associations with certain words. It just does it all by itself. I can’t stop it.

Problem is, just about any word can launch my brain into song. And in the right situations, I’ll actually start singing. I embarrass my children at times. Other times they join in. And when I’m with my sisters—forget about it. Every other line in our conversations seems to be lyrics of a song.

And sometimes the word only sounds like the word in a song. It might rhyme with the real word, like, if you were to tell me you were going to get your hair cut in a “bob” I’d probably start singing the old Silhouettes hit, “Get a Job” replacing the word “job” with “bob” making it, “Get a bob. Na na-na na, na na-na na-na.” And the “na-na”s in this case are the actual lyrics, not my brain’s attempt to remember the words.

I do prefer when my brain brings hymns to mind. It’s much more enriching than “Na-na-na” or “do-be-do-be-do.” But sometimes these things are beyond my control. I can’t help myself.

“I love you and nobody else.”