I’ve been a music lover since, well, birth, they tell me. I picked up the flute and guitar in high school and always meant to become better-versed in both (particularly the guitar) but its voice I’ve been involved in forever – choirs and solo performances beginning at about age six all the way through school into university and beyond. I love to sing and even studied opera for a spell. Over the past few years, however, I’ve been struck with a crippling stage fright. When I was a child, I’d perform at the drop of a hat and studied for, and received, my Grade Six Voice certification. But today, now that I’m not actively involved a choir, my vocalizing is more-or-less restricted to the car.
Side note: I love driving.
- It’s 20 minutes (sometimes more) when I’m (usually) absolutely alone, which is nice
- If I’m in the mood for it, I can head out to the mountains or down Deerfoot to amp up the speed and work out my cubicle feelings of being ‘cooped up’
- Driving forces me to focus on the task at hand, limiting the number of other random thoughts and stressors that bubble to the surface
- I can blast the radio, listening to anything I choose
Today, I sat twice. Once deliberately – silently and purposefully, breathing for clarity and peace. The second was a bit less conventional, but just as centering, if not more so. I made a quick jaunt to a nearby mall around lunchtime for a Jugo Juice pick-me-up and cranked up my latest music obsession – the Tron Legacy soundtrack. I have a revolving collection of music on CD and on my iPod to listen to, based on my mood, but lately Daft Punk’s techno rhythms have fit me perfectly. There’s no voice, no lyrics, just music. I find this kind of cleansing – like pickled ginger or sorbet for the mind. The mixture of sound and silence is refreshing and allows the music to flow right through me with no concern for paying attention to lyrics. Today, as I made the three-or-so minute to-and-from the office, I realized again how effortlessly I slip into the music. It’s as if the music frees me from all other thoughts – no dwelling on what I have to do or what I haven’t been able to accomplish; no worrying about why I can’t seem to just be patient and let peace find me; it just is.
I’ve felt like this my entire life, and my affinity for music has translated into so many areas of my life, including my writing. For a ‘professional writer’, I’ve never felt like I have the technical side down nearly as well as I should. I write from an “it just feels/sounds right” place, and it’s served me well thus far. Of course, I’m building my repertoire of technical skill, but the foundation it’s based on – having an ‘ear’ for it is the musical term – helps, I think (I hope).
I don’t know that I can equate purposeful sitting or meditation with my experience with music. When I sit, I do so with intention; but when I crank up the tunes on a daily drive, that’s pure enjoyment – no focus, no direction. Maybe that’s what mindfulness is supposed to be – effortless like music. Does it really matter where you find it?