ear worm (n.) : a song or melody that keeps repeating in one’s mind
Woke up one Saturday morning about two years ago with a song repeating in mind.
It was running before the eyes had opened.
I had not actually heard this piece of music for years,
and certainly did not go to bed thinking of it.
I want to be your sledgehammer
why don’t you call my name
you’d better call the sledgehammer
put your mind at rest
I’m going to be-the sledgehammer
this can be my testimony
I’m your sledgehammer
let there be no doubt about it
sledge sledge sledgehammer ! (1)
Over and over.
All next day.
All the next day too.
Went to bed with it.
Woke up hearing it before even fully conscious.
Continued all week, every day, all day.
For two days, the song changed to the Beetles’ LADY MADONNA.
On the eighth day after the songs started, I woke up to silence.
The ear worms had left.
Apparently, most of the population gets ear worms occasionally,
although only 5 percent ever has them for a week or more at a time.
Researchers refer to ear worms as ” involuntary musical hallucinations “.
The basic elements of the current explanations did not apply in this case.
Ear worms usually start in the middle of the day, and the explanations presume some prior mental state, such as boredom. No matter.
A flurry of ear worms did not occur before, or since.
Curious appearance and the oddity of the experience
came to the forefront of emotional relating.
The ear worms did not disturb life or disrupt anything,
because I did not obsess over their presence,
nor pay much attention to them,
but simply let them alone,
secure in the knowledge that all things must pass
due to their impermanent nature.
Remembered auditory thought experiences may come to mind ” on purpose”
or arise spontaneously, of a musical or non-musical (spoken) origin.
Remembered speech returns to mind repeatedly, spontaneously, just like ear worms.
“Struggling against ” ear worms makes them worse.
What about “struggling ” with thoughts of remembered speech ?
The relationship to mental experiences affects our lives enormously.
Resisting what exists – arguing with reality – often constitutes the first step
on the path to mental suffering.
If it were not possible to lessen the burden from mental experiences,
the Noble eight-fold path could be shortened to just five folds !
Looking into the relationship with mental experience continues to benefit this life
through lessened tension and greater clarity.
Unlike the corn farmer with his bane,
we cannot merely chop off
the end of the ear
and be done with it !
(1) lyrics from Peter Gabriel’s song entitled ” Sledge hammer “.
Ear worm research is here: http://www.gold.ac.uk/music-mind-brain/earworm-project/ and here: http://pom.sagepub.com/content/early/2011/09/17/0305735611418553.abstract
Definition is from here : http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/earworm
Record player pic comes from here : http://www.mymusicaltalent.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/lp-player.jpg
Lyrics from Peter Gabriel’s music here : http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/petergabriel/sledgehammer.html
Lyrics for Lady Madonna here: http://www.lyricsfreak.com/b/beatles/lady+madonna_20014569.html
Photo of the corn ear worm comes from here: http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/facts/95-065.htm