“Music enters our bodies, commandeering the pulse in our veins, and reminds us that pleasure isn’t a matter of feeling good but of feeling more alive.”
To be honest, music has continually saved my life! It has a lot to do with my upbringing and how important it was to my family and I guess the Hispanic culture. This is even more true in the last year although not in a literal or dramatic way (okay maybe at certain times) but it has given me direction and power in how to live better. All that I imagine, whether it be in the past or even well into the future, music and song mystically has transported me so they seem real if even for a moment. It reminds me of who, what, and where I was and in many ways, hope to be. More importantly, it has taught me how to expand relationships that exist in my present whether they be longstanding ones, or those of shorter or temporary duration.
Simple story but with a huge meaningful impact on me: When I first got out of the hospital fresh with anger, frustration, and dealing with a reality I was unwilling to accept, I began intense therapy. It included the involvement of this kind, unassuming speech therapist whose job was to help me regain and improve my memory and cognitive skills which were pretty basic at the time. Part of her approach was to play old songs and see if I could recall the words and names of the artists. To illustrate how limited I was, I could not recall the name of one of my favorite bands which should have been easy since it involved one letter and one number – U2. Funny now but it took me a week to finally remember their name.
Early on she shared with me how much she liked the band “Bread” because it reminded her of some of the best times of her life which was a few years beyond my 51 years. I actually was a fan of theirs after my uncle introduced them to me when I was younger. The words in their songs about love and heartache stuck with me throughout my later years so in a very random act of kindness (at least for me at the time), I downloaded 6-7 songs to take with me to my next session. Maybe it was in part to distract from the actual therapy that was frustrating or something to make me feel “human” again by doing something for someone who shared that she was struggling with some personal issues.
Anyways as she started therapy the next day, I stopped and surprised her with the songs I downloaded and tears immediately formed in her eyes and I watched as her thoughts were transported back to a more uncomplicated time with memories that gave life to her at that moment. We spent the whole hour listening to each song (sometimes twice) and sang the words together. Amazingly, I remembered the lyrics and recalled times I personally associated with them even though I struggled recalling basic other things, words, names, memories, etc., that should have come easier. Her face as she looked off in the distance at a meaningful part of her past is carried deeply within me to this day and that event began the redirection of my journey.
The morel of this part of my story! When I was at one of the shittiest periods of my life, I stopped being “f’ing” consumed with what was happening to me! I found by doing something so simple for someone who really needed it was the most therapeutic part of those first three difficult months. It made me forget about where I was and I began to be more aware of who was around me and where they might be in THEIR lives. It gave me hope in my medical recovery because I found there were things still stored in my damaged brain that could be unlocked. More importantly, I found hope in my heart about what I could achieve on a daily basis through kindness to others if I just took a risk and reached out to them. In that regard, I don’t ever take a lazy step when more can be accomplished by not resting and stepping quicker. That moment with her made me accept my situation as more than a recovery. It became a rediscovery of the best part of who I was and a discovery of who I could and should be. I’ve said it before that this injury and thereafter has been, in many ways, one of the best things that’s happened to me when at first, it seemed like the worst!
So music has been one of the most instrumental parts of my life because it connects me with every part of my existence. It has allowed me to explore my strengths, courage, beliefs, passion, emotions, imagination, flaws, vulnerabilities, and insecurities. It has shaped my heart each time I’ve shared it, tortured and repaired it when it was broken, and redefines it in the words that strike true to me with each song I hear.
I was told about love when I was young but truly felt it its connection with music and continually define it by the words captured in them. My soul is controlled, carried, and soars towards every place I want to be, and distance from those places I want to escape. My days are energized and inspired throughout each day with music, and the nights end comforted and at peace after every conquest and defeat.
I was taught about God through Catholic school and church. However I didn’t fully understand and feel his presence until I incorporated the songs and music created by mortals into my world. Maybe that’s why almost all religions and cultures express joy, sorrow, success, failure, appreciation, remorse, beauty, love, and unfortunately violence through the emotions and messages contained in music and expressed further through words and dance (no matter how comedic the moves may appear by the “rhythmically challenged”).
So if you see me singing out of tune and undulating like I’m having another seizure, do not be concerned (you should see and hear Deb, Jason, and Christian). Just part of my recovery and allowing the magic of the music cure me and continue to save me. If I see you doing the same, I won’t criticize you because I understand and will just smile to myself and then go back to my own songs.
Oh in case you’re wondering, I’ve been listening to Anita Baker pretty much this whole time.
PS. “A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.”