Lessons From a Guy Listening to Ice Crack

Let me set the scene:

I went for a 5-mile trail run on February 23rd in Gilbert Lake State Park. My route took me around the lake into the woods. Then around Ice Pond, Spring Pond, and Lake of the Twin Fawns to return around the other side of the lake. As I ran along the lake, and around the Lake of the Twin Fawns, I could hear a deep echoing rumble. It was coming from the iced over water. The sound was fascinating to me – sort of organic – like the song of a whale. When I finished my run, I decided to try recording it with my phone.

Here’s the clip. You’ll probably need ear buds and to crank it up.

I don’t talk much so don’t worry about blowing your eardrums.

Listen for a deep bass sound like someone farting in a tub. Sorry, that’s the most accurate simile a father of adolescent boys could come up with. There’s one at about 9 seconds, and then a burst at around 19 or 20 seconds lasting until 22 seconds. Then a final one just before I laugh and shut it down.


Did you hear it? No? That’s OK, that’s not really the point of this post.

I spent 20 minutes pacing around the lake, trying to find a good angle. I made several takes. Being outside, I couldn’t tell whether I was having any success. I eventually bagged it and went home to listen to them inside.

At first, I didn’t hear the sounds in the recordings myself, and I became a little bummed. Then I noticed something about the recordings and I had a minor “A-HA” moment.

Lesson 1: Be Present

I tinkered with the video file, trying to find ways to enhance the audio track. I became caught up in the technical aspects of the video and stopped looking at the person talking as myself.

That was fascinating in itself.

But this loss of identification allowed me to catch something about the face on the screen. The guy is like a kid watching fireworks for the first time. This phenomenon has a spell on him and he wants to show somebody. It was just ice cracking.  But what a sound!

We live in a world that’s been largely explained to us. And if we don’t know the explanation, we can look it up. Welcome to the Information Age.

But this guy wasn’t plugged into the information super highway. He had his smart phone, but he wasn’t getting any signal. Trust me, I’ve been stuck out there. He figured this sound wasn’t an unknown occurrence, but it was new to him, and he was curious.

I haven’t tried it, but I’m willing to bet there’s a much better recording of this on the internet. But the guy in the video doesn’t care. This is his discovery and he’s owning it like a boss.

Which brings me to my point. Despite his stoic (or stoner – yeah I see it) demeanor the guy in the video is having a blast listening to ice crack. He isn’t thinking about anything other than what’s going on in the moment – he is Present.

Life would be so much fun if we were like that guy in the video. Finding magic in the mundane. Being Present in the moment, instead of miles ahead or behind in time. Thinking of all we have to do, or how so-and-so dissed us. I am not the video guy – at least, not much of the time. I don’t think we can all be that guy all the time, but wouldn’t it be great to have more of those moments of Awareness?

I love technology. So does the guy in the video (“cool”).

I rely on technology.

But we have to be careful with it. It can answer all our questions, and plan our lives for us, and even store and share our memories. But it’s not as much fun to read or watch the information as it is to see and hear and touch, taste, smell. To be there.

So if you didn’t hear the sound on the video, that’s OK. Now you might be intrigued and want to go out and hear it for yourself. And maybe all the ice melts by the time I post this. Keep an open mind, though, and I guarantee you’ll find something just as cool.

Lesson 2: Laugh With Yourself

A last thing about this video and my reaction. The whole idea to record myself was goofy. The guy looks like a scrub.

To be kind, he just ran 5 trail miles. He looks pretty good, then, right?

But, even having said everything about being Present and blah-blah-blah, what’s this guy’s deal? From the dorky laugh, to the half-baked “cool,” to the bizarre camera angle. This guy has something going on, but not “it” if you know what I mean. Why is this thing on the interweb?

A few days before I shot this video, a friend of mine posted a memory on Facebook. It was from a day that some of my coworkers called “Honor Mr. Jim Day.” At the time, I interviewed potential employees on Thursdays. Out of some sense of propriety (like that word?), I wore a tie on Thursday. On this particular Thursday, so did everyone else.

tie day lessons

Honor Mr. Jim Day 2010

It was hilarious and it made me feel appreciated in a way other forms of recognition cannot. In his post from that day, my friend said “[Jim] was an AWESOME SPORT.” Not to brag, but I am.

What makes me a good sport is my willingness to laugh with myself. Not at myself, with myself – there is a difference. People that laugh at themselves do so out of low self-esteem. My self-esteem is intact, but I am well aware that I am not perfect. Nobody is or will be. Sorry.

The result is that I don’t tend to take things personal. When I do make one of my many stupid mistakes, I can have a sense of humor about it. This serves to protect my self esteem and keeps me open-minded enough to learn from my mistakes.

Having said that, there are times when I take myself way too serious. When I get frustrated with my bungling ways. When I fail to identify with the guy in the video, and just see some old burn out.

As I struggled with this video, I was also struggling with another blog post. And I caught myself taking… myself… too serious.  (Remember to turn down your volume!)

It’s not the first time, and it won’t be the last. And there’s probably some merit in doing so. But taking oneself serious can be dangerous. It can make the things you love to do much less fun.

And that’s a tragedy.

So I’m posting this to hopefully teach 2 lessons:

1. Get out there. See, hear, taste, touch all there is to experience. Don’t go out with an expectation of what you want to find. Go with a mind and spirit ready and open to anything. Technology can be a great tool for enhancing this experience. Or even reporting out to us what you found. But it should never stand in for it.

2. Don’t take yourself too serious.  Tony Gentilcore recently said something about weight lifting:

This can apply to life in general. We’re not going to achieve perfection. The more we try, the more frustrated we’ll become.  And the less fun we’ll have. Laugh with yourself. This ability can get you through the darkest hour.

Of course all this boils down to one thing:

For chrissake, HAVE FUN!

And I’m posting this for myself. I want to be like the guy in the video. Now this will be here as a reminder to stop being so heavy.

One more time:cool


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