The 365 Commitment

Mondegreens

A thought for consideration. Rhymes can be very powerful. All of us know some version of the ever popular counting rhyme. The one that starts eenie, meenie, minie, moe. This ryhtmic rhyming sequence is not new, it has been around for a long time and comes up in many different languages. Playground chants have grabbed on to it and warped it to it’s purposes (some of them not very good). I remember the version going around when I was a child was specifically derogatory on racial lines. That was interesting, because this history of that particular version dates all they way back to post Civil War times. However, all of that aside, the rhyme was intended as a method to help children learn to count. I actually believe that the current pronunciation is due to english speakers misunderstanding numbers being rehearsed in another language, which produces phrases like eenie and minie and moe.  That happens all the time, even today. My son thought for sure that Justin Timberlake was saying “I have a donut” instead of “I thought I told ya.” My daughter still believes that Gwen Stefani has a “ship that is bananas” not that her “shit is bananas.”  I hate to to break it to you, but Robert Plant is not screaming, “a Beatle Headed, Bearded, Feeble headed, blue eyed woman ain’t got no soul” it is a “big-legged woman ain’t got no soul.” No, Taylor Swift does not have a long list of Starbucks Lovers. She has a long list of ex-lovers. Although, I think the Starbucks one is probably more likely!

The point is this, music, rhymes take on a life of their own. A personality if you will, and many times this happens by accident through what is called a mondegreen. Not a parody, but rather an accidental mishearing of something by a population of people. Even the websites that show the lyrics for popular music often times get these wrong, as the erroneous phrasing seems to become more powerful than the actual wording. This just shows you how powerful a phrase, a way to state things, a rhyme can be. The most sampled Reggae Song of all Time from a unknown Artist named Sister Nancy, has a song with the lyrics called literally, Bam Bam. That is it, she repeats that like 100 times in the song and people have been using and reusing that for decades now. No one knows what it means, not sure if it really meant anything, the point is that her little song called Bam Bam has had a tremendous influence, beyond what she ever conceived.

In today’s society we have thousands of these phrases that we use, re use, borrow and repeat all the time. We have artists producing songs, music and things of that nature in quantities never even conceived of before. Yet despite the proliferation, there seems to be little poetry that has become mainstream. Now there are poets, and perhaps poets will be forever doomed to never see the influence of their creativity. The impact of their words my more time than they have alive to see people adopt, repeat, copy, and even mistake the words enough for it to catch on to be influential. We probably will never get rid of the eenie, meenie counting sequence, and there are many more like it. My point is that these are very powerful and that the thought is to consider incorporating rhymes, quick phrases, mantras into your life. They can be great motivators in a time of need. They can serve as ways to coax yourself through the hard times.

When we run in the morning and it is freezing cold, I have come up with a goofy one for my daughter and I to repeat over and over again. I am warm, I am toasty, I am a marshmallow. We have added some more versus since then, it makes us laugh and we feel better about running and you now what? It works! We feel warm after 10 or so repetitions. I have one I say internally when I am feeling sluggish while running, I am light, smooth, and fast. That one gets me going and I can definitely feel that my running pace, cadence and stride changes when I am repeating it. Anyway, get creative. Find things you can repeat, perhaps a mondegreen, or deliberate rephrasing of something else to fit your purpose. The point is be creative, be your own poet. Identify the phrases that will govern the times in your life when you need to perform well.

Guy Reams

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