Friday, October 14, 2016

Music spins my head right round

So I've been doing something a little strange lately. Something that only a Bailey Brewer would be weird enough to deem as something worth doing.

Because I'm weird.

So here's what I've been doing. Some weeks back, for WHO KNOWS WHAT reason, I decided that I should listen to all my music (CDs) in the "order" in which they are placed in the sleeves of those zippered pouch CD holder case things.

Let me back up.

Some things you should know:
  • I love music. Like, love. I've been to maybe eight concerts this year alone. Which I think is above average.
  • I have a bit of a spending issue. I buy a lot of CDs.
  • Also I'm old, so I've had many years to purchase many musical albums.
  • Finally, I'm not very organized (except at work, where I'm paid to be organized. And with my social calendar, because I love my peeps).
Because of all these above-listed (I would say "aforementioned," but I feel like they were mentioned too recently in this post to really warrant an "aforementioned," am I right? I'm right.) reasons, I have accumulated several "books" (those aforementioned zippered pouch CD holder case things) of CDs.
Just picturing them in my head, I think I count two of the big cases, which hold about 100 each, plus three more little ones. Not to mention the CDs that won't fit in the cases, because I continue to accumulate silver circles of listening pleasure.
So, for (again) who knows what reason, I recently decided that I should listen to ALL my music, and not put it in any particular order. I should just leave it in the haphazard "order" that it is all currently in, Justin Bieber stuffed next to a recorded sermon on the Gospel of John, and listen to allllll of it, from CD 1 to CD 300, skipping no CDs and skipping no tracks.
Again, don't ask me why I came up with this idea.
But I do want to share some observations I've made so far during this musical journey.
I've made it through about 20 CDs, and it's certainly been interesting so far.
1. I feel like my mind isn't racing as much as it sometimes can.
This could be due to other factors, or just a season in my life, but I feel like the music is to thank for this in some ways. There's a weird comfort(?), I guess, in knowing that the next disc I'll spin in my car is already selected for me. Not that I stress out about my music choices -- at least not in an active way that I'm aware of. But just as there's something freeing about living a square life and having a set schedule dictate your next move, I feel like I'm taking life kind of as it comes, instead of always being in charge of constant change (e.g., changing a CD whenever I darn well please, or skipping a track), and it's kind of nice.
A set schedule and taking life as it comes are probably contradictory, I realize. Don't look at me, People. I just write here.
I guess what I mean to say is I've set a "schedule" -- in the form of a bunch of CDs that are, ironically, out of order -- and now I'm just letting the schedule happen to me. And in that way I'm taking life as it comes. That makes sense, right? OK great, moving on.
2. I'm enjoying myself, and paying more attention.
It's been fun! listening to my music this way. I'm listening to tracks that I almost always skip over, and giving them more of a chance to tickle my musically snobbish ear. Kind of the way we should treat people. By and large, I love people (and also have an open mind for music), but sometimes there are people who just don't interest me as a potential friend. But I find that, basically always, when I talk to them more, I learn little details that endear them to me. I can now say the same for music.
I studied abroad with a guy in college who said he's never heard a music album he didn't like. My friend Samantha used to say the same thing about movies.
I'll admit, I kind of thought they were crazy for thinking this way.
But now I kind of get it. Before, I would ignore probably 40 - 50 percent of my CDs. Just never listened to them. Because they weren't my favorite. They only had one or two songs I really loved.
Before I started this journey, I thought there would be some albums that I would struggle to get through. And I'm sure there will be some eye rolling and strong urges to skip tracks.
But so far, having been "forced" to listen to each CD hasn't been too aggravating. It's been more like, "Hmm. This actually is a pretty sentimental Destiny's Child, which is underappreciated, being outshone by Say My Name."
Anyway. I've liked what I've heard. And sometimes, when I thought I wasn't in the mood to listen to a sermon, well, it went more quickly than I thought.
3. I haven't (so far) grieved my loss of control.
A few times, yes, I've caught myself thinking, "Wait. Why am I listening to this track? I never listen to this one."
But I've found that in resisting the urge to move to the next track, it hasn't been completely unbearable to listen to the songs I don't necessarily love the most.
And, call me an over thinker, but I feel like this is helping discipline me for other things in life. Things like lines in stores. People who talk at us and whose conversation we can't escape for one more favorable. Annoyance. Anger. Sadness.
All these things come at us, and yes it's cheesy to say, but we can't skip the tracks in our own life. And even with unkind memories (which I'll address in point #4), we can't control how and when those will pop into our heads. But we can learn to deal with them in different ways.
We can take deep breaths in line (or play Words with Friends while we wait). We can actually listen to that person and ask him a question about himself. And we can breathe through the memory, examine it, hold it, feel it, and find out what it means and what we're supposed to do with it.
And also, I feel like this musical journey is reminding me not to take for granted the many blessings in my life. I have been so fortunate to hear and own so much music -- not to mention been so fortunate to have so many friends and material comforts -- and I want to fully appreciate it.
I'm getting really philosophical, maybe, but music is more powerful to me, I believe, than even ancient philosophy. It is a miracle that cannot be explained, that breaks us open when we are too stubborn to do so, and unites us under concert hall roofs and on dance floors with people we may otherwise write off. It's amazing, and if it wants to teach me how to live better, I'm all ears.
4. I'm taking an inadvertent walk down Memory Lane. And it kind of feels like really productive, honest therapy. 
I have had some memories come UP in the last week or so. I haven't had a weeping session yet, but everything I listen to has a memory. Even the stuff I didn't think I was that emotionally attached to.
In listening to Destiny's Child "The Writing's on the Wall," for example. If I were to listen just to the hits, I might have a shallow, poppy, albeit fun experience. But then I'd pop in another CD and move on.
But in listening to the whole album, it reminded me of freshman year of high school. Of my oldest brother, who bought me the CD -- for Christmas, I think. Of visiting Manhattan, Kansas during spring break and thinking my friend Annie was so cute and confident (I remember her singing, or referencing "Say My Name," during our visit). The album made me wonder why I've never gotten rid of it. Was I holding onto it for when I have guests in the car (people tend to get very excited when they see my Backstreet Boys and other retro pop CDs)? Or was a part of me keeping it for me?
The album, admittedly, holds a bit of a somber tone for me, because for much of high school I felt on the outside looking in. I know most of us felt that way, but I was a new student at my high school both as a freshman and then at a different school as a junior. So I really felt invisible sometimes. There's something about some of these Destiny's Child songs, that, though intended for the masses in the early 2000s, have an effect on me even today, and not just in a silly, nostalgic way.
As a 31-year-old woman, an Independent Woman (throw your hands up at me) who is largely confident in her life's walk, I find myself driving down freeways in one of the most coveted cities in the world, and I'm humbled and reminded that I'm just a human. A human who once felt lost in high school and who strangely feels like pop hits that are not reserved for any one group are somehow not fully mine. And music should be for everyone. If there's one thing I believe, it is that music is an inalienable right, never ever to be taken away.
I find myself, listening to Destiny's Child, whose music has been, yes, successful, but to this day considered casual, and it's really cutting to my human core. So much so that I find myself suddenly tearful even typing this.
See? This has been therapy.
It's been weird to work through these emotions. Like I said earlier, I haven't cried yet (well, until now), but I've certainly been thinking as various sounds have been emitting from my car speakers. And I think the no-skipping-tracks rule has been one that's helped me sit with some tough stuff and have an opportunity to move past it. To have it in my past, inside of my true self, that I was sometimes unhappy in high school, but to also be released from that pain and set free to just listen to pop music in peace.
For crying (literally) out loud.
I guess if I have one take away for you from this journey of mine, it's to maybe encourage you to take a similar journey. Find something in your life that you ignore, or that you think you pay attention to, and make yourself really look at, and touch, or listen to it. Maybe work through your recipe box, and make yourself actually taste the oatmeal raisin cookies, and taste the grandmother who used to make them for you and everything she meant to you. You might cry. But you might be surprised. And you might find some healing.
Happy listening, Friends. May music never be taken from you, and may it always be a thing of healing.

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