I listen to music. A lot. While I’m cooking, writing, reading the news online, cleaning, driving, or doing yard work I have music on. I find that music helps me to practice joy throughout the day. It can also help me to process through difficult emotions and get in touch with challenges I am facing. Music can be very powerful and healing. And it can also cultivate a lot of strife and harm if we are inattentive to its effects on our mental state. For instance, I love love love the musician Bon Iver. His voice and melodies are hauntingly beautiful. But I started noticing that when I listened to his music my disposition would change. I would suddenly become more downhearted and sullen. I enjoyed his music so much that not only did it take me a while to connect the dots in terms of how I felt during and after listening to him but it also took a while for me to decide to stop listening to him because I didn’t like how the music affected me. Music, like any media influence, has the capacity to uplift us or sink us down and it’s important to understand ourselves well enough to know which does what to us so that we are able to water the most skillful seeds within us and flourish with more ease.
After I cooked myself a wonderful vegetarian dinner earlier tonight I was struck by musical inspiration and hopped onto youtube in order to look up some of my old favorite songs I hadn’t heard in a while. I plugged my laptop into our large guitar amp so that I could listen to the music the best way I think it should be experienced – loudly! I mean really, some songs simply need to be loud in order to do them justice. You cannot listen to Pink Floyd on lousy laptop speakers, it just won’t do I’m afraid.
The magical powers of the internet and youtube make access to music unbelievably awesome. How wonderful it was to type in: Going to California, Led Zeppelin and be able to listen to that song in an instant or watch the 1980 music video Don’t Stand So Close To Me by The Police. And honestly, I don’t know how much cooler a guy can be after watching Rod Stewart and his band rock out in Do Ya Think I’m Sexy? or how much cooler a gal can get after Janet Jackson and Paula Abdul in the late 80’s and early 90’s with their wicked beats and dance moves.
Strolling down musical memory lane listening and dancing and singing to songs that once created the soundtrack of my adolescent life I was filled with joy and gratitude for the life I am, and have been, afforded. I was uplifted by the music and reconnected to my inspiration and motivations as I was growing up in the suburbs of Philadelphia on the east coast. Music can have the ability to color in faded memories and restore distant friendships and lost loves, even if only for the 4-5 minute duration of a song. In my musical wanderings online I was transported to a time long ago that I have not thought of in a long while – to a person I once was and who is still as much a part of me now as is who I am today will be part of who I will be tomorrow.
And the soundtrack of my life continues on….