The music doesn’t echo from the rafters much anymore. It’s not that I don’t like the quiet. But there used to be a mix. I used to have music as well. Now it’s silent almost all the time.
Sometimes, my son will sit at the piano and play one of his pieces. Sometimes, my daughter turns on the streaming music service. But for the most part, there is no background score; it’s auditorily empty space almost all the time.
I seem somewhat determined to keep it that way although until recently, I hadn’t given music’s absence explicit thought. Nor did I think about what it means when you give up the things that you used to enjoy.
For instance, I rarely play piano anymore. If it weren’t for my son, it’d be gathering dust. That’s a huge change; I played for more than forty years, now I measure the intervals between piano sessions in months, not days.
The radio player isn’t humming from the computer, either. The sound is off everywhere unless I’m driving or exercising – you’ve got to keep the beat. When I bothered to think about it at all, I assumed I would get shortly get back to having it in my life. Soon. Not today, but soon.
Once upon a time, music was my everything. The idea of not having it around, of not making it, of not listening to it was beyond comprehension. And yet, here I am.
We know well how to hit ourselves where it hurts.
I’m no different. I have a perverse tendency to abandon things that bring me joy.
What is it about hair shirts that we find so appealing?
I remember my first tape recorder and the Abba tape that came along with it. I wound and rewound Super Trouper so many times, my dad bought me a new tape in self-defense. Burton Cummings, in case you’re curious.
I remember standing in front of my mirror, wearing pyjama pants to simulate long hair, singing into my hair brush. Quietly, of course, because to be discovered would be to die of embarrassment.
I remember practicing my flute in the bathroom because the acoustics were better. I remember working hard to learn the Moonlight Sonata when I was a child because Rowlf the Dog played it on an episode of The Muppets and I wanted more than anything to make the piano sing the same way.
I miss it.
Unfortunately, I let the music stop a few years back, a result of that peculiar human tendency to hit ourselves when we’re down.
It stopped and so far, I haven’t managed to work it back into my life. I think about playing piano and sometimes manage a few sets of scales but that’s it. I think about pulling out my portable speaker and cueing up a playlist to listen but that doesn’t happen either.
Then again, a goal without a plan is more like a wish.
I like the quiet. I like it a lot. I like being able to disappear entirely into my head if I’m reading or writing. I like not feeling overwhelmed by input. But there are times when music would be fine, welcome, uplifting even. It would probably make household chores more pleasant. It would certainly add to the ambiance when people come by to visit. It would definitely lift my spirits when my mood is taking a hit.
So, of course, it makes perfect sense that I don’t.
Working against your own well-being is not uncommon. Who really gets enough exercise, sleep, water, and vegetables? Who really limits their screen time to less than seven hours a week?
There are reasons, of course.
A lack of awareness. We simply don’t recognize or acknowledge the problem.
A lack of permission. I’d do better if someone told me what I could and should do. I’m okay at the “have-to” tasks. I forget, however, to give myself permission to enjoy things that aren’t “meaningful” and recovery-based.
A lack of effort. For instance, I say I want to play the piano more. But what have I done to help facilitate the changes? I haven’t added “piano” to my planner anywhere in the week. I haven’t dug out my old books. I haven’t got the piano tuned. This leads us into:
No plan. We all like to think we’re effective fly-by-the-seats-of-our-pants people but the truth is, most of us aren’t. We are better at accomplishing things when we have a schematic. People often limit planning to the big stuff; it works equally well for smaller issues and goals.
I’m going to work on bringing music back into my life. I’m going to write it down. I’m going to give myself a break and do something nice.
We put the hair shirts on; no one says we have to wear them forever.
Do you treat yourself well or do you tend to treat yourself as an afterthought?