First, the apology: Yesterday was my birthday—for this I do not apologize (or apologise). Yesterday I did not blog—for this I am truly sorry. I went running and met with friends and taught a class and attended a class and participated in all sorts of eating, drinking, singing and celebrating, but I did not blog. And really I meant to.
Second, the deliberation: Having caught myself up on the most recent posts of my fellow contributors, I see there is no single conversation to engage with, no one line of thought to pick up or put down or derail, as the case may be. Independence, music, power, balance–where do I begin?
Third, the confession: I sometimes have a difficult time blogging on a schedule (as evidenced by my tardy posting). It isn’t that I forget, but rather that I freeze. If inspiration has not stuck in my allotted seven days of “think time,” I sit staring at my keyboard waiting for my fingers to do something magical. I want my posts to be both witty and profound, memorable and meaningful. And sometimes they are. And sometimes they are not. Sometimes they are the mere musings or memories of a human living life, little pebbles of pondering plopping into the great sea of thought.
Fourth, the entry: This is what has come after my period of pondering.
I have never been “a music person.” I know people who are “music people” (both those who self-identify and those who don’t). I have enjoyed music immensely and am mesmerized by its capacity for attached meaning and its ability to remove my mind from my body. Music can suspend me from reality, transport me to times and places and moments I thought I had forgotten. It can stir a fire in my soul, put a wiggle in my walk, bring tears to my eyes. It is powerful. Sometimes too powerful.
I used to keep music on constantly. Never a particular kind, whatever popped up on Pandora or Spotify or was sitting in my car. I listened to music while running and commuting, washing my dishes, answering e-mail, sometimes even while writing (though I find this a challenge). But sometime last winter I stopped listening altogether. It wasn’t really a decision. It was a necessity.
Months before, I had suffered a significant loss that affected my life in ways I never would have anticipated. It was heart-wrenching and destructive and life-changing and transformative. But first it was devastating. And so was every song that surrounded that period of my life, no matter what the genre or subject matter.
Music is incredibly evocative, and for too many months the only thing it evoked was the rejection and remorse that filled my heart. Everything I listened to made me sad. Songs about love, songs about loss, songs about joy and anger and hope and regret. All of them depressed me, either because they were too far from my reality or too close to it. I’d been through heartache before. I’d been rejected before. I’d been ignored and discarded and lied to before. But never like this. Never with so little resolution and so many empty promises. So little closure. So much false hope.
And music of all types only served to remind me of my situation; its healing powers backfiring one track at a time.
For a long time there was silence. (There was also NPR and jazz and yoga, but mostly there was silence). And the silence was cleansing. And the silence was deafening.
Earlier this year, I began to bring music back into my life, forcing myself to listen to songs I once enjoyed, acknowledging the fact that they would never be the same, that I would never be the same and neither would my experience of the music that came before. I’ve gone back–way back–back to songs that carry no promises or ties or connections or disappointment. And I find that this is surprisingly hard, that most of my life I have intentionally and unintentionally been hanging hopes onto harmonies and reading my own longings between lyrics. And music, with all of its power and permanence, has taken on my associations.
There will be a day when it will be easy, when whole libraries of albums will be have been redeemed by new experiences with people who speak truth and live love and share peace. It is already getting better. There is already so much more. But for now I go slowly. It may be easier to pick up the “new” than it is to redeem “old.” Most relationships are like this, no matter what their nature may be. But I am in the business of restoration in all areas of life. Starting with my music and reaching on from there.