Have you ever noticed that when we talk about people we really love being around, it’s easy to speak of our connection in rhythmic terms?
“We’re on the same wavelength.”
“It’s like they’re tuned to the same frequency as me.”
“She and I vibe so well together!”
“He and I, we just click.”
“We’re so in sync!”
There are so many ways to describe friendships, but rhythm as a metaphor seems to uniquely describe the essence of what it means to have a meaningful connection with another human being. I recently was introduced to the concept of rhythmanalysis, and once I started delving into the topic, it made me reevaluate so many things through a completely different lens – such as the topic of how people find and make their friends.
Energy moves in waves.
Waves move in patterns.
Patterns move in rhythms.
A human being is just that
Energy, waves, patterns, rhythms.
Nothing more. Nothing less..
Rhythms pervade every layer and every corner of our existence. Some can be heard and felt in the moment (drum beats, heartbeats, vibrations), while some require a longer span of time to notice (the day/night cycle, the changing of the seasons, global warming). Some are more conceptual vs. directly sensed by the body (such as the regular transfers of political power). Vibrations happen on a molecular level and create color, sound, temperature, weather… we are enveloped in rhythm from womb to tomb, while also being part of a larger rhythm – the life/death cycle.
In addition to being surrounded by rhythm, as humans, we are polyrhythmic beings. The human body inherently operates on multiple rhythmic levels – it’s in our breathing, our heartbeat, our sleep/wake cycles, the speed of our gait. The cycles and patterns we learn from childhood can affect us as adults, from what we were fed, what we were taught, how we were loved, who/what we worship, and how we learned to seek solace when times are tough. Every individual is a complex combination of rhythms and cycles – physical, intellectual, emotional, psychological – and when you meet another person, there are so many ways that the combination of those rhythms can create something beautiful – or unbearable.
Each human personality is like a piece of music, having an
individual tone and a rhythm of its own.
(Hazrat Inayat Khan)
I think the word ‘friend’ is one of the most vague and misunderstood words in the English language, as people use the word for everything from acquaintances to people they trust with their lives. Acquaintances are made from common circumstance. You might meet at school or work, through a mutual friend, or from sharing the same hobby. Often, the relationship doesn’t progress beyond this surface level – but sometimes, we are lucky enough to find people with whom we sense we resonate with on a deeper level (getting a “good vibe” off of them!), and we start sharing more of our hidden inner selves with each other in an attempt to ‘level up’ our friendship to something deeper. Does this mean that friendships are only made by people who have lots in common? No. If we all exude our own individual rhythmic vibrations, we might gravitate most naturally toward people who are the same as us (synchronization), or people who are different yet complementary to us (syncopation – a contrasting rhythm that still meshes well and adds layers of interest). Like attracts like, AND opposites attract… both of these things can be true at the same time.
Rhythm is one of the most powerful of pleasures, and when
we feel a pleasurable rhythm we hope it will continue.
When it does, it grows sweeter.
Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of
balance, order, rhythm, and harmony.
Music theory nerds might already know about this, but it was a mind-blowing revelation to me when I discovered that polyrhythms create harmony. When sped up, beats create pitches, and depending on what the polyrhythm is, the resulting sound could be consonant or dissonant. Adam Neely has a fascinating video on this topic.