Music is an inescapable necessity in my life. It’s not that I despise silence; sometimes I need it. But, on the whole, music is one of my favorite bridges between the mundane world and something much greater. With that comes a lot of good, and a little bad and ugly.
I have anxiety disorder. Diagnosed years ago, used to be medicated for it, the works. About a month ago, I lost my iPod. I wasn’t upset because it was an expensive piece of equipment, but because I was slowly driven mad until a friend of mine loaned me their old one to replace my lost treasure. During the time without it, I realized just how much music meant to me. The wait for the bus got so much longer, and so many anxious thoughts crept up on me. Waiting for appointments, long spans of time at work—all these things became so much more difficult to manage. I started to get easily agitated, even around my friends. But, now that I have another music player, everything is going back to normal.
It sounds a lot like a drug, which amuses me given how many songs are written about the power of music. It’s truly an intense power. There have been times where I have been on the verge of an anxiety attack, and there are songs that I can turn to that soothe me down. This also helps when I can’t sleep at night due to acid reflux symptoms. Of course, I do take other medicine to actually deal with the acid problem, but music can keep me from thinking about it too much, which, again with the anxiety, happens a lot. That then prevents me from tensing up and making the stomach trouble worse.
And then there’s the bad and ugly side. There are some songs that I outright cannot stand to listen to. It’s not an average distaste, either. They are simply too emotionally deep for me to block out. I’m convinced that the way I listen to music lowers my shields and makes me more vulnerable to the energy the music presents. That can lead to soaring highs, or…intrusive thoughts of flinging yourself out of a car into oncoming traffic because a song is playing on the radio and the driver refuses to change the station even though the other person in the back seat is yelling at them to please do something because this person is clearly having an anxiety attack and can barely breathe. Funny how some music can stave off or even prevent an anxiety attack, but others can induce it.
But that’s exactly why I find it to be so important in my life. It has been the amusement of many of my friends that I can find a song for just about anything. My previous iPod, which I had kept up for years, had a rather extensive library. In middle school my friends and I would play a game called “the iPod shuffle game”, where I would set it to shuffle, ask a question, and then hit next. The “answer” would either be the song title or some other information, like album, artist, or the lyrics. After a few years, the iPod got very good at this game and seemed to develop a distinct personality. It was about that time I learned that there is actually a word for doing divination like that: shufflemancy. My new iPod, despite having the same music library, still seems to be learning its way around. Sometimes I still sense a glimmer of the same personality shining through, and I like to think of it as if there was a spirit attached to my old iPod that is starting to follow me to this one.
I find this to be relevant to my religious practice as well. Some of the first times I’ve ever felt entranced have been through music. It’s how I met Joan. When I began to learn to dance, I began to feel connected to a goddess, who later stepped forward as Het-Hert. Now when I go to events or conventions that have a dance, I like to take a few minutes and dance intuitively, through Her, for Her, and with Her. Often She laughs at my lack of flexibility or awkwardness, but it’s all in good fun. But, it all ties back to the music. I have to be feeling the music in order to dance intuitively. In theory, yes, I can industrial and Fortnite dance to everything, but there’d be no passion. Without passion, the energy doesn’t flow and the connection is lost.
A lot of that passion of mine, I think, derives from how I listen to music. I mentioned that my shields seem to lower when I do. I listen with more than just my ears. I feel it in my core, and there are often little visualizations that come along with it. Colors and waveforms, mostly. A song is greater than the sum of its parts, and focusing on one instrument will bring a different visualization than another. It’s strange to me that I never learned how to do this. I simply did. It’s one more thing that is so normal, everyday, and basic that I feel it gets overlooked. That’s why I wanted to honor it, at least for today.
© Kahleo 2019