I enjoy listening to music. I like listening to music when I work, when I play, even when I am writing. There is something easy about the ability a well-written song has to change your mood, to redefine your mood, or even to simply make your mood.
Typically when I listen to music it is on my computer. I use a system that has all of my favorite songs listed, and plays only from that list. Never deviates to something similar, and there are no commercials. It is just my musical world.
I have groupings; like for writing, for exercising, Disney, etc. I use those groupings only when I am in a mood that desperately needs to be reinforced by words written by magicians I have never met. Put on the music of Gladys Knight or Adele, or the lyrics to Whiskey Lullaby or I won’t Give Up and I can and will successfully accomplish that which I need the music for.
Today, I need the music to remind me. To remind me that while there is no castle in the sky, nor is there a place I can go to find the serenity I so desperately need, there is a place in the notes of a great song. I listen to Sitting on the Dock of the Bay by Otis Redding, and while I am briefly reminded of Tom Cruise and a shirtless Val Kilmer, I am also transported to a home by the sea; to a swinging bench, to the salty air. I can hear the ocean in the early dawns as the rays of the most beautiful sunrise bathe your face. I can hear the lack of noise, the quiet for my mind to settle, and the calmness of the simple.
The power of music stuns me. The ability for a series of notes, that once whistled softly in someone’s mind, to take you exactly where you need to go, to give you the reminder that you have so harshly lost, or to help you to unburden in a world that accepts drowning as a normal life, is exceptional. Those simple strings that you have to listen for, that bass line that some have to pull forward and others push back, makes the world if not understandable, as least a little more beautiful.
I often talk about the fact that I desperately need a safe place; a resting place. I have been to multiple therapists over this concept, and I have finally begun to recognize that a safe place doesn’t exist. The journey, while holds its own importance, is destined to fail. There is no safe place. There is no place to go to that will give you the comfort, and even more importantly the understanding, you desperately need. Even the songs that we so love are nothing but a substitute, and while usable for brief moments especially when you are singing at the top of your lungs, ultimately they are just a series of notes that the layman can’t read.
But what about that fictional Dock of the Bay? In your mind it can become a place; a real world that you can find and relax into as long as the measures of the songs continue. It is a place that only exists in the four minutes of the music, but it is a place that can be captured over and over by the repeat button on your radio. It shows no understanding; even our affair with the composer lasts no longer than an affair with an author of a book. It shows no compassion; and while it can wrap itself around you, it is a figment of the imagination God gave us to survive. It is as real as we make it, and yet it has no powers when silent. Unlike the eyes, it cannot see beyond the notes; and it cannot comfort in silence.
There are tangible things that I need in my life; things like hugs, warm shoulders, and snuggles from my babies. Those are some of the essential things that I must have, but they are ultimately dependent on another. Even the snuggles from my babies are dependent on my children’s whims. These tangible things cannot be synthetically created nor can they be reproduced; no matter how essential I hold them.
Like everything in life, that which we long for is often held far away from our dreams. The reality of human beings requires that dreams easily change to disappointment when faced with time. This is a truth far more real than science. Human beings will disappoint, they will take from each other the necessary air, in order to fly. They will give you only what they are capable, and the dreams of your own reality will rot as the truth is found. There is no escape from this; there is no momentarily respite from the knowledge that we aren’t capable of saving anyone.
Music gives us the illusion. It gives us the illusion that for just a moment we are free; for just a moment the dream that we hold onto so desperately in the night, cannot be felled by our own reality. It gives a break from the search, not for perfection, but for sanctuary. It gives our mortal soul a moment of immortality and rest. It gives an illusion to hide behind. And then the guitars start, and fly to a different world altogether.