I know it sounds weird, but I’ve recently had to make a daily appointment with myself to listen to music. As a teen, like most, I had music playing in the background always, attended concerts, and kept up with the latest bands. As I got busy in my 20’s with graduate school and work, music seemed to interfere with my concentration a lot of the time, so I saved it for evenings and exercise. Once I started having kids, there was always such commotion in the house, or the need for quiet during nap time, that music just sort of faded away without my noticing. Only my daily runs were plugged in, and though in retrospect running has partly for that reason always been one of my favorite ways to unwind and relax, I never realized.
Music, we know, is so beneficial. It inspires us and helps us express emotion and learn and remember better. It’s fun, spiritual, creative, therapeutic and relaxing. It adds what I like to view as a 4th dimension to daily life–subtly filling and enriching the surrounding environment. It makes working out more intense, romantic moments more sensual, parties more playful, and de-stresses you even when sitting in gridlock traffic or standing in the kitchen cooking short-order dinners for a batch of cranky kids. (Check out raisingwell.net for cool stuff and upcoming workshops on enhanced sensory awareness.)
If, like me, you’re out of the music loop, Pandora.com, Lastfm.com, the Filter, iTunes genius, and Spotify.com are some great websites that lead you to new music based on sounds you already like. Currently, I am listening to The Black Keys, The White Stripes, Cake, and the blues. Trying to keep something playing in the background, no matter what I’m doing. It brings pleasure to the mundane.
There are still moments of madness when music can irritate your nerves, just adding to the commotion. I couldn’t handle it in my morning kitchen, with the insanity of sending 4 kids out the door to school. Homework time needs to be quiet. And so on. But if you’ve lost touch with your musical self and recall fondly your early years making mix tapes for friends or feeling comforted after a breakup by your favorite ballad, try reconnecting as an adult. Let me know how it goes.