I love music.
I was driving home with my younger brother tonight and we got talking about music. One of those “real” conversations. Those type are my favorites. They’re the conversations that I live for. He asked about a CD I had playing in the car- one of the earlier Rise Against albums– and I asked if he liked it and he told me that it was alright but it was a little much for him. This lead into a bit of rambling conversation on my end. Perhaps conversation is strong… it was more one sided. I just rambled. But the rambling really got me thinking. Got me talking, which was, in this case, more important that just thinking.
You see, over the last two months I have done a lot of thinking. Some action. I moved. Got away from the jobs and from school. Decided I needed a break, and it has been one of the smartest decisions I’ve made all year. And it was perhaps the most needed thing in my life – a chance to step away. But it has also given me all that time to think. And in so much thinking I found it easier to think than to act. Thinking was safe. A refuge. A haven.
But tonight, I talked. I talked about music. I’ve loved music as long as I can remember, but for me, I feel like I really began to get a taste of what music could be when I was 13. I had grown up on country music and the soft rock radio station my mom loved. And one day a friend sent me a track by Rise Against. If I remember right it was their song Prayer of the Refugee and I found myself introduced to a whole new side of music. I talked to some family and was introduced to even more bands. Fall Out Boy. Breaking Benjamin. The Killers. Panic! at the Disco. 30 Seconds to Mars. Hawthorne Heights. Bayside. I could go on. I soon had a full 30 GB iPod full of music. And soon that wasn’t enough for my entire library at one time. I moved to Canada and found a whole different music scene in Toronto. Smaller, less heard of groups. I found groups before they made it big. I began finding new radio stations once I was driving on my own. Exploring.
As I look back, I can see how I learned to use music. I had playlists devoted to emotions. Some for when I felt lonely, when I was angry. When I was happy and on top of the world. There were songs for all of it. There were songs I used before a soccer game, to get the heart beating faster and my blood pumping. I had songs to mellow me out and calm me down. Playlists I could drive with and be calm and collected, and some that were more erratic. And when I left for two years on a mission for my church, I had to give up a lot of that up. Hang up my headphones, so to speak. And that was one of the toughest thing for me. I can’t remember how many times I sat around silently wishing for a certain song or playlist. And sometimes I would hear it as I’d walk through a grocery store or when a car drove by and I couldn’t help but think of the tender mercies of the Lord.
I love music. I love that it can reflect emotions and thoughts. I love that it’s an artist display of their time, talent and thoughts. I love the ability to portray thoughts, messages and meanings. I love that those listening can find their own messages. Their own meanings to a song. I find that it’s amazing to watch an artist grow and to feel their own journey as they grow from song to song and album to album. I love that some artists tell whole stories with their albums, each song an intention stroke of an overall masterpiece. I love that music becomes a journey. An adventure with twists and turns and ups and downs. It is a lot like life. And I love that even on the same playlist, I have never repeated the same journey twice. Never even come close to it in fact.
It was good for me to say that tonight. Because for the first time in weeks I truly felt like breaking my silence. No… I’ve felt like it for a long time. But for the first time in weeks, I found that I needed to. That I really wanted to and that, more importantly, I did. And once more, I felt music taking hold in my life and bringing me someplace safe.
I can’t help but think of a quote from Calvin and Hobbes, the illustrious six year old and his best friend. Calvin said that “life is like topography, Hobbes. There are summits of happiness and success, flat stretches of boring routine, and valleys of frustration and failure.”
I find that to be a very truthful statement. Life has lots of ups and downs, twists and turns, and yes, even its fair share of boredom and routine. But I’ve learned that there are tools to help us get through all of it. Through frustration, rage, sadness, loneliness, happiness, loss, joy. Through any emotion. Any experience. There are ways to help us see it through to the end and to come out on top. I have many such tools. But tonight, the one I’m most aware of and grateful for is the music to get me through.