My father always says he hates going to concerts and seeing people singing with their hearts wide open, arms stretched out like they’re having religious experiences. But I disagree, because I don’t see music as just an entertainment, a talent, a simple pastime. Oxygen is overrated. Music sustains my soul.
Music has affected my life in various and incredible ways. To me, music is a sweet and sour therapy that makes me whole again. Music makes me alive, makes me want to breathe and talk as hard as I can, live on the edge, turn cartwheels in front of mirrors, dream elaborately illuminated fantasies, and surrender my afternoons to my boom box and a sinking-soft chair in a fierce, sappy paradox.
While music has had a tremendous influence on my life, not all of it has been positive. Not all power is good; music intensifies cravings and obsessions. Without immuring myself within certain genres, I’d never have been so desperate to fit in, I’d never have tried so hard to be someone else, and I truly believe I would have climbed out of the depression of my childhood and early adolescent years much more quickly. I would have had no time to sit in my room and listen to scowling, angry scream-bands. I wouldn’t have been so impulsive; with different music, I could have developed and maintained self-control, and learned the true importance of honesty. But having had music nurture this darkness in my past, I have come out of it all the more intense, confident, content, stronger, and more alive than I could ever be without it. I don’t see any sense in complaining or regret, because all I want is to feel alive.
Music is a release. Recently, I was in the car with my 13 year old brother, and some old favorite rock song of ours came on the radio, and I turned the bass and volume all the way up and tapped my fingers along to the beat. My brother leaned forwards to me, with his face suddenly flushed, and his eyes shining. “Doesn’t some music just make you want to scream?” he said, and I rolled down the car windows, and felt the gas pedal pulse under my foot, and he turned his face into the wind and screamed and screamed, and I could feel everything the Hemophilia doctor said about how he couldn’t play football anymore, along with everything else he didn’t want to talk about, melting away.
Music makes me raw, and helps me live life fully. Music makes me want to steal cars, set things on fire, get into a fistfight. It makes me want to mold unappreciated masterpieces out of cracked clay, drown, and dance, half-blinded under pulsing disco lights. It makes my emotions rich, tears my heart out of my chest and dreams out of my head, and makes me real.
As well as feeding my spirit, music intensifies my relationships. A family built around music is bound by something stronger than blood, and we will never leave each other. My favorite time with my three younger brothers is spent doing the dishes, when we turn up the fastest songs we know, and dance in giddy, charged movements, swinging ourselves around into each other, rocking our hips and popping our shoulders. For those minutes, we’re taken from the ups and downs we’ve had, and are living right there in the present, outside of ourselves, with all our conflicting emotions, misleading instincts and gut reactions throbbing somewhere inside. Similarly, I’ve never heard truer moments than one of us pounding away at the piano, or disappointment screeching through the air from trembling fingers at a violin, or anger spilling fluidly out through my drumsticks. Music does not provide escape from life, it enhances it.
I fall in love with people who make mix CDs for me. Relationships begun, encouraged, and enhanced through music make me curious, grateful, infatuated, and expressive. I know that people change, move on, abandon old love-interests and friends, and become different in themselves, but the people I’ve known through music are the ones I’ll never forget. People who’ve been there with me to experience the discovery of song will never truly fall away. And in the end, the music will bring us back together.
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