The Doppler Effect

I hear a train coming. First, the faraway vibrato of metal on the tracks. Then the whistle. As it gets closer, it gets louder and the sound gets fuller. It begins to bend. As the pitch gets higher, and even higher, I am subconsciously aware of my entire body coming to attention. Pupils. Pulse. Some primitive part of me laser-focuses on safety, preparing for a possible conflict or getaway.

Then it is is right here, with me, at its fullest and loudest. The pitch is at its highest and clearest. It fills my ears and my chest cavity with swirling vibration. For a moment.

Then it passes. The sound bends again. Lower this time. It becomes airier, softer. It hollows out, receding. My body knows that there is no need for action. I feel a subtle sense of calm relief.

My ears, my brain, my entire physiology experienced this changing sound. The rising, building, crescendo-ing, peaking. The falling and fading. The sliding away. But the sound was the same the entire time. The sound itself did not change at all. My relationship to the sound changed, because of the movement of the train, the movement of my feet. But the sound was, simply, the sound.

The sound was like the rising thoughts in my mind. It was like memories. Like feelings. Like fears, anxieties, joys, sadnesses, ecstasy, cravings, anger, panic. They are all the same. Always the same, but with time, with distance, with movement, my relationship to them changes.

If we are still enough, if we sit with them long enough, we will realize that they will come up, they will build, crescendo, peak, and then they will slide away, hollowing out, until they are too far away to be felt. They will come and they will go, like the train.

They will go. But the track is always there.

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