I spent a lot of today organizing the sprawling mess my music library has become over the years, copying it to my new PC, importing it into Rhythmbox (iTunes, but for Linux) and trying to find my way around Rhythmbox (because it’s really not iTunes, even if it looks very similar, and completely different in how to handle it). My brain still feels clogged and numb with renaming and moving files.
But it was worth it – I have music now. Music is important to me. That feels slightly weird to say, considering I’m not even horribly musical and don’t play any instrument, but it’s true.
When I was ten or so, I had a few books with collections of Christian short stories, and one of them was about someone finding a huge archive of everything they had done in their life so far: files documenting all the books they’d read, all the people they’d talked to, all the sexual thoughts they’d ever had, and so on. The point of the story was the almost empty drawer containing a list of the (very few) people they had told about Jesus, but some time before that, they found a drawer of all the music they had ever listened to – I remember how excited I was about that drawer, and how much I wished I had such a drawer so I could look up all the titles of the music I’d ever heard without knowing their titles. The story’s protagonist then went on to say how ashamed they were of wasting so much time on music they could have used to get closer to God (or something like that). I remember well how utterly indignant I was – time spent listening to music was not wasted!
I pretty much still feel that way. Music is easy to combine with other activities (organizing music, for example, or transit, or brushing my teeth, or doing housework, and of course going for walks and working out), and it’s so versatile! Depending on the tracks I choose (or let shuffle choose for me), I can put myself into almost any emotional state: screaming defiance, mindfulness and wonder at the world, deep grief, steely determination, relaxation so complete all my muscles feel like liquid, comfort and solace, awe, energized defiance and rebellion, bubbling joy, and others I’ve forgotten to mention. It’s certainly a greater range of emotions, and more depth of each of them, than I usually experience in my non-musical day-to-day life.
And being able to have music for all those emotions of course also means I can manage them, or at least manage them better than without music: I can find an angry, fast song to cope with my anger, indulge in it for the five minutes or so it lasts, and then feel cleansed and more grounded than before, without blowing up at anyone or anything or bottling it up inside me. I can feel desperate and alone and find a song expressing either the same emotion or a complementary one (comfort, kindness, warmth), and either will make me feel calmer, supported, understood and validated.
In sum, music is good.
And it seems fitting to end this post with some music, but choosing a single song seems impossible, so I’ll leave you with five choices:
- For something light and happy, listen to Waterflame – Glorious Morning
- If you feel like you want to rage and smash everything and burn the world, listen to Otep – Run For Cover
- If you feel rebellious, but in a less destructive and more mischievous way, listen to Naughty (from the muscal Matilda)
- If you feel like crying and maybe also killing yourself, and you need a friend, listen to Twenty One Pilots – Truce
- and if none of those fit, here’s Beats Antique – Spiderbite so I don’t leave you empty-handed