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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Life Cycles

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Life is a river.

That's what Granddad always used to say.

A beginning, an end, a million different ways in between.

He used the metaphor my whole life, how it ebbed and flowed.

Following the path of least resistance,

barreling straight through the impossible.

Clear as air and black as night.

But no matter what direction,

or how it moved or what it looked like,

the point, according to Granddad,

was that the river always moved forward.

What kept him running the rapids

until he was old and grey?

The mystery of what lay around the bend.

(blast furnace)

(heavy door retracting)

(door slamming shut)

(car engine starting)

(birds chirping)

(rainfall)

(insects humming)

These days, that mystery is hard to find.

The river is distant, the sky clouded with concrete.

For many of us, life's great adventure,

all its beauty, all its connection,

sails by unnoticed.

Funny thing is, the river's never that far off.

This is the story of a way back in,

to the rush of moving forward.

Born from the Earth's crust,

grown from the seeds of innovation,

forged in the fires of industry.

The Earth's most efficient machine

creates its most efficient animal...

the bicycle.

Our noblest invention.

Trails, like the seasons, come and go,

built on a foundation of diversity,

beauty, classic elegance,

never quite repeating themselves.

A marvel made of beginnings and endings,

with a million different ways in between.

(crows cawing)

(wheat rustling)

(birdsong)

(faint jostling noises)

Granddad was all about those connections.

He had his hands in the earth as much as he did in machines.

Maybe that's why he understood both sides.

Sure, we till and cut, we reap and we sow,

and yeah, we do great damage.

But we're also capable of great good.

After all, no matter how smart we think we are,

we're just another part of the mystery.

"Balance a bike right.

Keep the pedals turning.

Forget about everything except right now.

And there's no place you can't ride."

That's what Granddad used to say.

Lord, I woke up this morning

and I was feeling bad

Whoa, babe,

I was feeling bad

Well, boy, she brought my

Boy, she brought my

Boy, she brought my breakfast this morning

Boy, she brought my

Boy, she brought my breakfast this morning

She didn't know my name, she didn't know my name

Ohh, Lord, I woke up this morning, and

And I was feeling bad

Whoa, babe, I was feeling bad

Well, I was thinking 'bout a good time

Lord, I must have been

Well, Lord, ohh

Boy, she brought my, more than another woman

But she ran away, forget about me

Forget about me, oh, Lord

Boy, she looking for me, she looking for me

Mm-hm, ohh hey, whoa hey

La la la la leee, yeah

(plane's engine roaring)

(train whistle and wheels)

(birdsong)

(truck rumbling)

I once read that life is an act of suicide.

And it's true.

We're probably the only creatures on the planet

who know this.

Maybe that's why we're so good at killing.

It's going to die anyway,

might as well have it for ourselves.

So we take, we take some more.

But in the process, we kill other,

less tangible entities.

Things like flow, joy, interaction, purpose.

Another way through the world is lost.

Not by one particular person,

but by instinct, survival,

the very chaos of life itself.

(chainsaw buzzing)

Bring Sally up and bring Sally down

Lift and squat, gotta tear the ground

Bring Sally up and bring Sally down

Lift and squat, gotta tear the ground

Bring Sally up and bring Sally down

Lift and squat, gotta tear the ground

Bring Sally up and bring Sally down

Lift and squat, gotta tear the ground

Bring Sally up and bring Sally down

Lift and squat, gotta tear the ground

Bring Sally up and bring Sally down

Lift and squat, gotta tear the ground

Bring Sally up and bring Sally down

Lift and squat, gotta tear the ground

Ol' Miss Lucy's dead and gone

Left me here to weep and moan

Bring Sally up and bring Sally down

Lift and squat, gotta tear the ground

Bring Sally up and bring Sally down

Lift and squat, gotta tear the ground

Bring Sally up and bring Sally down

Lift and squat gotta tear the ground

Bring Sally up and bring Sally down

Lift and squat, gotta tear the ground

Bring Sally up and bring Sally down

Lift and squat, gotta tear the ground

Ol' Miss Lucy's dead and gone

Left me here to weep and moan

Bring Sally up and bring Sally down

Lift and squat, gotta tear the ground

Bring Sally up and bring Sally down

Lift and squat, gotta tear the ground

Bring Sally up and bring Sally down

Lift and squat, gotta tear the ground

Ol' Miss Lucy's dead and gone

Left me here

You spend hours thinking, designing, questioning.

Also, you can spend a few seconds

lost in one moment.

No time to think, just reaction.

Focus.

All the worry and the want washed away by the rush.

When it comes to trails,

when the builder puts down the shovel

and picks up the bike,

when creation overrides destruction,

well, that's living.

In a sweater poorly knit and an unsuspecting smile

Little Moses drifts downstream in the Nile

A fumbling reply, an awkward rigid laugh

And I'm carried helpless by my floating basket raft

Your flavor in my mind back and forth between

Sweeter than any wine, as bitter as mustard greens

And it's light and dark

as honeydew and pumpernickel bread

The trap I set for you seems to have caught my leg instead

Go plow some other field, try and forget my name

We'll see what harvest yields, and supposin' I do the same

I planted rows of peas, but the first week of July

They should have come up to my knees,

but they were maybe ankle high

Take the fingers from your flute

to weave your colored yarns

And boil down your fruit to preserves in Mason jars

And the books are overdue and the goats are underfed

The trap I set for you seems to have caught my leg instead

Ah-ahh, ah-ahh

Oh-ohh, ah-ahh-ah

You're a door without a key, a field without a fence

You made a holy fool of me,

and I've thanked you ever since

And if she comes circling back,

we'll end where we'd begun

Like two pennies on the train track

the train crushed into one

But if I'm a crown without a king,

if I'm a broken-open seed

If I come without a thing, then I come with all I need

No boat out in the blue, no place to rest your head

The trap I set for you seems to have caught my leg instead

Ah-ahh, ah-ahh

Oh-ohh, ah-ahh-ah

I do not exist

I do not exist

I cannot exist

I do not exist

Only you exist

I do not exist

I still remember my first bike.

A perfect little banana-seater with big chopper handlebars

and sparkling blue paint.

Bright memories came on that miracle of ingenuity.

Cruising down the sidewalk, feeling big,

even though I was only seven.

In a second, the world grew exponentially.

We found secret back alleys,

jumps a whole four blocks away.

We'd crash, get giant scrapes down our arms,

race to the corner store as fast as we could,

candy spilling out of our pockets like stolen gold.

With every ride, every new adventure,

the chrome would fade.

The rust would creep into the paint.

Other kids would show up with newer bikes.

My best friend Jimmy got a BMX with treaded tires, no fenders.

He could jump that thing like nobody's business.

Then we found a trail,

and the world changed again.

We'd find ourselves deep in the forest,

riding over roots, dropping into gullies,

caught in the rain.

New kids would show up with gears and bigger wheels,

and while I remained true to my ride,

much like the chrome and the paint,

my affections began to fade.

My parents promised me a BMX when I got little bigger.

But for now, a chopper would have to do.

One day, far gone in the woods,

my perfect little banana-seater broke in two.

The end of an age.

I cried for a long time,

even though a new bike wasn't far off.

This thing had become a part of me.

It still is.

No matter how well we build things,

no matter how hard we love them,

like everything else, for whatever reason,

there are forces that aim to take it all away.

(bike wheel spinning)

As the sun goes down,

down around my ankles, whoa, my, my

There's a sliver of light shaking through the night

through my window

And I hold my fire

as the rain outside comes down like knives

I can't tell no lies, and I ain't felt your thighs,

girl, I'm so young

But we must ease ourselves back to life

♪ 'Cause we ain't been ourselves half the time,

and it ain't right

Girl, I stole a horse, black as night,

and named it The Truth

I'll come by your place, you wear your white dress

(departing footsteps)

(door squeaking, closing)

It's only taken 200 years of trial and error to get here.

Two hundred years of innovation and invention,

of not giving up.

Complex by design, simple by nature.

The bike is nothing more than circles turning circles.

It's the human motor that makes it elegant.

But no matter how far the bike has come,

no matter how much it can already do,

the pushing doesn't stop.

We still haven't found the edge.

One day, the river meets the sea,

and then it's not a river anymore.

It's passed through the wheels of change,

in and out of experience.

Stories, adventure...

granddads.

Inevitably, the ride stops.

Lost, but not entirely gone.

For now, as far as we can tell,

the cycle of life...

well, it never ends.

Smile, (unintelligible)

Ooh-ooh

Ooh-ahh

Ooh-ooh

Ooh-ahh

A smile has been calling me for a long time

Sometimes, it squeezes by in smirks

I tried to cover my ears, pretending not to hear

Let's learn the language of the trees

I'll hunch my heart into my knees

Prepare a Pegasus for every naked face

Inhaling hope through furrowed frowns

You think I sold my soul to Satan

I swear I gave myself to God

What we love will make us happy

We all make up our own right and wrong

Bereave such salient an epicure

We'll change the world with our monumental,

miniscule gestures

I live with all my decisions, all somnolescent dissipation

Exacerbate the exclamation

Point right out

Ahh-ahh

Ahh-ahh

Ahh-ahh

Ahh-ahh

Tug on the apron of our instincts

While watchers cluck disapproval

of all the proud but beaten down

Who think their suffering proves that they're strong

Alack the day we left the sordid soused,

the rascal roused, runnin' round

The crooked crown like chimerical starlings

over the servant left supine

The Description of Life Cycles