I discovered playing music when I was thirteen, at least that’s the story I tell myself because that is when I got my first guitar. Music became everything to me. It anchored me as I desperately navigated the minefield of a teenager’s quest for self-discovery. Music carried me through my high school years. Being different didn’t matter as much as long as I was playing music. I was expected to be different, to be a rebel. Music helped me navigate an existential crisis that could easily have ended this version of my life, leaving me to hope that I would return to life under better circumstances. As I experienced it, this iteration of existence had nothing to redeem it other than music.
Of course, I am not alone in finding music to be an anchor in a sea of apparent insanity. I can’t speak for the experiences of others, that is their task. However, I do know that music is a life jacket. I am fortunate that Lanie has allowed me to use one of her images to illustrate this post. I have seen images of Lanie with her guitar a number of times over the years, as I have seen images of Emma with her violin and her piano, and of Joy with her guitar.
Music acts as a bridge to a deeper aspect of oneself. There is a thin veil between our conscious world and the shadowy depths where our creativity finds nourishment, the seat of the Muse that artists of every stripe tap into. That muse is one’s soul.
Music speaks to me and I speak through my music. I find my moments of joy transformed into sound, as well as moments of sadness. The music I play for my young grandchildren sounds and feels different than the music I have played for memorials. The most powerful song I can remember playing was “Go Rest High on that Mountain” by Vince Gill. The song made the suicide death of one of my brothers bearable. And of course, there are the love songs.
I wonder if musicians play these songs of romance as much to themselves as they do to their significant others. I know that I sometimes play to the a mythical “other” as though it was a powerful meditation of healing for all those in need of love.
Today, I almost don’t play at all. My left hand that would have played the notes and the chords has become injured and tends to seize up. Despite that, music still rolls though my soul. Perhaps it is my soul.