When I awoke from today’s highly unusual 4-hour nap, I had been dreaming about being lost, looking for someone, eliciting help from strangers, consulting maps of unfamiliar places, and traveling on foot, by myself, to get there, hoping to goddess that I hadn’t forgotten anything, since the distances I had to cover were vast and difficult. It was a desert-like landscape, devoid of any sustenance, and it was fairly primitive, devoid of any of the developed-world conveniences I’ve historically relied upon.
And as I reoriented myself in time and space on the couch in the living room, I realized that the dream I’d been having wasn’t too far from the truth: I was lost, flailing and grasping at anything I could, searching (although alas, there is no map).
I bundled up and left the apartment for a little while, and sought solace in music, as I tend to do. I need to be by myself and cue up a music video on my mobile, and just take it in.
Tonight’s video of choice was Mazzy Star’s “Into Dust”, as it seemed particularly appropriate and representative of my thought-train, and the music itself meshed well with the particular vibe I’m feeling.
As the familiar song began, I was comforted, although not instantly, but soothed somewhat nonetheless. As it continued, I settled in to its calm and melancholy groove. I try not to wallow too much in it, but whatever I listen to has to meet me where I am in order to reach me and speak to me.
I began to feel a little more grounded again, like I had finally begun to step onto more solid territory.
This is not the first time this has happened. I’m an old hat at this. Music is a powerful avenue of therapy for me, a sort of low-tech DIY method of processing and feeling and eventually, transcending.
Because in the end, I always end up transcending; that’s part of the story. I’m eternally grateful for this. Music grounds me and keeps me from drifting too far, as I have been prone to doing. It’s painful to imagine a life without music. I reckon that it would be lonely and empty, devoid of a much-needed outlet, lacking in direction. It would probably be colorless and depressing.
Music gently nudges me into a state of peace, of understanding, of clarity. It wraps around me a security blanket, as if to say, “I understand.” Music gets it. I don’t have to mask while listening to music; it doesn’t need to be impressed or entertained. I can simply sit and absorb and bask.
Slowly, after feelings like this, I can begin to grasp the situation (and said feelings) more firmly. I can gain my footing. I can finally get up and move again. I can reflect without breaking up or shutting down. I can begin to breathe normally. My body temperature warms back up from its cold, damp disposition that sets in whenever I feel insecure, in pain, and withdrawn.
Music heals. It doesn’t do the healing itself, of course–the healing process is my responsibility alone–but it’s a medium, an instrument, a facilitator. It speeds up the process by focusing my thoughts, adding a sonic backdrop that seems to empathize with me, keeping me on a forward-moving trajectory. It meets me in the depths of where I am and seems to hold my hand as it brings me through stages of recovery from difficult times and chaotic, interwoven emotions.
Music doesn’t judge; music doesn’t sanction; music doesn’t criticize. Sometimes it can yell at you, but that problem can be solved by choosing a different genre, if desired. Music doesn’t expect you to respond or interact with it in return. You can have lost your words or melted down or thrown things around the room, and the music will play for you, just the same.
Music reflects back to you what you want to get out of it. Even within specific genres, there is a range of vibes you can interpret at your convenience and for your purposes; you can take from it what you want.
For example, Mazzy Star’s “Into Dust” could be relevant for a variety of situations – recovering from or in the midst of a breakup, a fight, a general meltdown/shutdown, the death of a loved one, or simply deep contemplation with no sadness involved. You could listen to it while watching the snow fall peacefully outside your window, and it could augment that experience. It could even help you fall asleep, with its serene shimmer. It’s a versatile song, and most songs are that way, if you read enough into them and dilate the mind.
Music will always be there; it’s not leaving; it won’t desert you. I think there are even instances in which it has saved my life; maybe reassuring words or simply the feeling that “somebody gets it” may have pulled me back from that Pertinent Edge, making me pause just long enough to think twice about going ahead with the unthinkable.
Music can also be a double-edged sword, so it’s important that I’m careful with my choices. I wouldn’t want to inadvertently choose to listen to something that might drive me further toward an edge, or further down a spiral into a hopeless emotional abyss.
But overall, it has been a lifeline, a keystone, a secret ingredient in my life. And for that, I am forever thankful.