Music Monday: Still Alive

NYC MidtownLost? That’s a matter of perspective.

The apple blossoms outside tell me that we made it through winter, and my what a brutal winter it was, no?

The urge to throw oneself into frenetic activity has already gripped me several times, and it’s at least once so far have I looked back, seen several projects begun and none finished. It’s a good reminder that just because we’re busy doesn’t mean we’re productive. I have to explain this in my yoga classes a great deal: you may feel like you’re working, and in fact, you very well may be, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything other than self-punishment is being accomplished.

So how does one know their ideas will bear fruit?

The key, I’m almost certain, is breath.

“If you feel like you have control of nothing else, then start with the breath,” I tell my students. It’s the foundation of everything we do—not just asana, but meditation, balance, or even work, arguments…when we lose control of the breath, normally, the rest of our faculties follow, if they have not been compromised already.

I chose this song because it lives in a curious parallel world; “Still Alive” is the soundtrack to a first person parkour platforming game Mirror’s Edge, a short, unsung hero of video games released circa 2009. As one could imagine, being a parkour game, the goal is to get from Point A to Point B in as fast a time as possible, but the most efficient way to accomplish this is not to enter into panic mode, but rather the opposite: playing Mirror’s Edge at high levels is less about twitch reflexes and more about entering into a zen-like trance. The word they use is “flow.” Coincidentally, we use this word in asana practice a lot.

(Spoiler: it’s not a coincidence)


Firstly, I love Lisa Miskovsky’s voice. However, the glue that holds “Still Alive” together, arguably, is the piano lick, which welcomes us to the track (and then later introduces the chorus, first at 0:55). In virtually every remix, that piano line exists somewhere. In this way, “Still Alive” sounds more like a duet, with Lisa squaring off against the piano line (or, I suppose, it’s more like typical Top 40 tracks that feature a different artist for the chorus or the guest third verse. However, “Lisa Miskovsky, feat. Piano” just doesn’t quite have a punch to it, y’know?). No matter what remix one listens to (and there are several; spotify that noise!), the fiery and earthy dubstep or drum and bass line is always countered by the airy and watery piano.

I’m not sure what kind of an effect this song would have on people who haven’t played the game. For me, I can’t hear the piano line without instantly being sent to the top of some skyscraper on a clear blue day. Mirror’s Edge had such a clear vision of this starkly beautiful world, and the song by itself urges that sort of action, but also clarity, that was required to progress through that world. To assist, I provided a picture of Midtown NYC as seen from above.

You see, I think it’s inevitable that as the weather warms, we’re all going to get wrapped up in that urge to go somewhere, do something, and we’ll get overwhelmed before we know it. It always happens. And suddenly we look up and see ourselves surrounded by skyscrapers, like we’re in a crazy maze with no hint as to where the cheese might be. But it’s not a maze, and though we might find ourselves seemingly lost and a far way from home, I will always go back to that advice: “When everything seems lost, go back to the breath. If you can regain that, you can set your destination, and move from there.”

So breathe. Just breathe.

Then pick a destination. And go.


Photo: Dimitry B./Flickr