The lullaby of grown-ups

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Campus columnist Lili Szarvas has been thinking about lullabies. When we're kids, that's what soothes us and puts us in a dream-like state. What replaces lullabies when we're adults?

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Growing up, every kid struggles to fall asleep sometimes – I mean I absolutely get it, how weird it is that our body is able to just shut itself off each day? Anyways, when lying wide awake at night, many of us used to listen to lullabies to speed the process up. It was not only lovely to hear something that is soothing and tingling at the same time, but also a way to create a dream-like state of mind – filled with magic, absurdity, and hope (just think of Hush little baby, or Swing low, sweet chariot). But what do we do now? What is the lullaby of adults?

Is it the Harry Styles narration of a story about an Italian vineyard on one of those calming apps, or the sweet, brain-numbing repetition of the same old techno rhythms? I think not.

Lullabies are supposed to be about something light, superficial and in-depth, and playful and introspective, and moving at the same time.

For me, this has always been travelling - however, by this awe-inspiring word I don’t mean the luxurious holiday you’d been planning for months and months. Rather, I refer to the daily routine when you get on the line 7 bus and go home - or to basketball practice, or to buy groceries, or anywhere.

What matters is not your starting and destination point, but the journey in between as this is the time you can stretch that right leg after politely asking the cheerful elderly man with a hat and a newspaper, to scooch over a bit. This is when you can plug in your earphones, listen to your guilty pleasure music and watch who you’re travelling with - study their faces, gestures, smell, and potential eye-contact. Who knows maybe you even smile at them? Your eyes wander out the window and rest on a funny-looking building, a lady wearing the most neon coat you’ve ever seen, or some wild chickens which roam around Zuilen. You commute (wow, I hate this word), and the world around you slows down, either the inside or the outside is too bright and the other one is blurry and filled with shades. You pick which one you focus on, and then, along with the exposition of the song you’re listening to, you fall into the deep dream-like state, where it is possible to be the voyeur of your own life while you keep moving with the pace of the bus. It’s an association game; switching your body off and letting your subconscious make the decisions - effortless, but mind-blowing as if you were tumbling down the rabbit-hole of sleep while listening to the soothing tunes of your favorite lullaby.

You suddenly start paying attention to this one detail you haven’t noticed before, but it’s not about the location, rather, about where you are somewhere within yourself. That lullaby ride on the 7th gives you time, but not actual hours or minutes, but a chance to be, be yourself, and wonder if you see the hazy ocean of people with neon coats or the rain drops on the window through which you’re gazing out at.

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