The Walk of Life

I’m sure my daughter Teagan was born with a built in altimeter.  A very sensitive one at that.  When she was less than a year old, she was very hard to put to sleep.  She had an active mind, I could see it in her eyes. She would focus on any sight or sound, those eyes searching for the source, rather than closing.

My wife and I tried many things. Finally, I thought I found the answer. I would carry her on a stiff pillow, walking in circles as I rocked her to sleep. Much more effective than the over the shoulder method, she would be asleep in a reasonable amount of time. But the process was flawed. I had failed to account for the altimeter. 

I would try to set her on the bed and instantly her eyes would open. After a few failed tries, instead of setting her down, I waited until her eyes were closed for about five minutes and attempted to gently sit on the bed. I no sooner bent my knees when her eyes popped open.  Perhaps she could sense the bending of my legs pushing into the pillow. So I held it above my waist so as to avoid any interference with my daughter’s stationary sleeping surface. The results were the same. No matter how carefully I moved, the altimeter sensed it.

Abandoning the notion of carrying our daughter, we tried whatever we could think of.  Using any method, physical, mechanical or otherwise to soothe her, we searched for a solution, none of which worked.  Teagan needed something to focus her attention on. She only seemed at ease if she were moving.  She seemed to quickly tire of her immediate surroundings. But I could not carry her all night, nor was I going to let her cry for hours.

The best luck we had was with a small hammock like bed. We played music for her but lullabies had little effect. One night, as I was searching for songs, “The Walk of Life” by Dire Straits started playing.  As soon as the first short phrases played, her eyes registering curiosity, waiting for the next sound.  Once the song got going, I watched her relax, the tension releasing from her small body, as the music carried her away to dreams.

It was peace she was looking for. But not the kind we had imagined.  It was the meditative peace that comes when the mind is still. There was so much going on in her little head, she needed something to focus on. Something that stopped the chaos and filled her mind with wonder in a way that only music can.  Being both stimulating and relaxing at once. All consuming and liberating.

After that, it was easy to get her to sleep.  We found that songs with a steady, upbeat rhythm worked best.  Enough to get her attention, yet still be soothing. Songs that were in balance with her inner rhythm. Music tames the savage beast and everything in between. This is the magic. There is not only a song for everyone, but an abundance of music for us all. I am glad my daughter found, at such an early age, this friend to accompany her on “The Walk of Life”.