December 26th, 2008

speechlesscat is speechless

Payoff for a lifetime of OCD

I am currently watching something I never thought I would see -- something whose absence has bugged me from the time I was old enough to keep time to music.

I've got a random song going on my iPod -- Mike Oldfield's "The Source of Secrets," from Tubular Bells III* -- and I just so happened to glance over at my D-Link wireless router. The "Status" light on the router is blinking in a steady pattern on and off, and it is keeping exact time to the music.

I don't mean "almost" keeping time to the music. I don't mean that weak near-coincidence that has you convinced for 30 seconds that you've found a match. I've rewound the song three times, I've been admiring it from beginning to end, and it's an exact match. That status light is staying stable as a metronome.

It may sound trivial to you, but it's a thing of surpassing beauty.

Something in my hindbrain notices these synchronizations -- and needs to find matches, almost like the ear needs a lingering 7th to resolve or the brain needs to fill in the last words to an almost-complete lyric. When I'm listening to the tick of the turn signal over the car radio, if it almost but not quite matches the music, it drives me absolutely crazy. To actually see two unrelated things match in rhythm -- exactly match -- that long-awaited resolution feels like a fulfillment of sorts.

* The song "Secrets" from the same album also works. I pulled out a watch later on and counted: the watch matches up to the beat too, so the song is at 120 BPM and the status light flashes on/off once per second. You'd think it would be more common to find songs at that pace, but apparently not.