Over a year ago I walked the West Highland Way with my hopes high and my feet unprepared. Unlike my feet, my spirits managed alright. At this point and looking back, I want to confess without regret that, on occasions, this was the result of the music I listened to along the way.

I know you are not supposed to listen but to the music of nature when you are walking in the hills. I know you are there to appreciate nature, the birds tweeting and singing, the leaves falling and the trees gently dancing to the soft tune of the wind. However, sometimes, I succumbed to the sound coming from my headphones instead, submerging myself obliviously in the openness of the outdoors while listening to the gentle and constant beat of Public Service Broadcasting or other favourites from my music library.

This song was my favourite of them all, the one I listened to the most, continuously, at times even in an endless loop. Ever since I’d heard it for the first time, I thought it was a great tune to walk by its rhythm. But then, one night in a hostel in the way, I met the owner of the most beautiful smile I have ever seen. He had never listened to Paul Simon beyond Simon and Garfunkel and I felt obliged to share Graceland with him. From that moment on, the song acquired a deeper meaning – I inevitably associated it with that brief encounter, that night when we shared smiles and headphones, and which captured my imagination for several weeks afterwards.

Now that time has passed, I also want to confess that, although his face may have faded in my memory, the image of his smile stays untouched, but most importantly, so does the effect of this song which has the power of warming my heart like a sunny afternoon.

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