Says Who??

Verstehen, through shared perspectives

THE SOUL’S MUSIC RESTORED

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scenic pianoHuman beings have a wonderful gift that I firmly believe connects our spiritual nature to the source of its being. The ability to create beautiful sounds from our own throats, to use our brains to compose melodies and harmonies that become operas, concertos, requiems, ballets, and marches; to combine our voices in the multiple harmonies and rhythms of the choir, accompanied by instruments we have invented for that purpose, is beyond comprehension. The results are so pleasing to us that whether for a free concert or when having to pay a large price for tickets, we will gather together to enjoy this gift that speaks to our souls as a community, or we will listen to recordings by ourselves as we bask in the restoration and pleasure of the experience.

Many of us are drawn to a particular genre of music that has a greater capacity for energizing, calming, or healing that is special to our unique self. Maybe it has the ability to do all of this; perhaps it also becomes a comforting presence to the person who is alone with their joy, sorrow, or just with their thoughts. In any case, those for whom music is a vital part of their life enjoy a profound relationship with it, even if they only have the ability to listen with all their hearts and cannot produce the music itself.

For me, music has always been important. I am almost transported to a higher plane of being when listening to classical music, my favorite—especially to classical piano. Having played several instruments when I was younger, including piano, organ, violin and alto clarinet, I often found myself fingering the notes of a particularly moving or thunderous passage—sometimes even waving my arms in the fashion of a conductor as my entire body listened to, and was moved by, the music. Until it was not.

It has been more than twenty years since I could bear to listen to the classics. Listening to the music was not something I did passively; it could not be background for other activity. I had to stop and concentrate, to listen with my entire body and soul. The music demanded it. So as I grew older, and the disease processes that create my chronic pain grew worse and required all my energy to cope, I no longer had the ability to listen to the classics—especially the piano. It actually hurt, because those pathways of pleasure were now overcome by pathways of pain and illness. Instead of soothing, the music irritated inflamed nerves.

pain photo

 In my previous articles, however, one could follow the wonderful restoration of my ability to function physically under the dedicated care of a pain management physician. I have even regained the ability to work part time, and to function quite normally in taking care of myself. I have often remarked that my brain is not what it used to be, but I was beginning to feel more like myself. This has been an amazing journey; one that continually filled me with awe and gratitude for being given a second chance to live a productive life unbound by severe chronic pain.piano keys

In fact, in the past few weeks I have become aware of an additional blessing. I find myself, more and more often, listening to classical music and especially to classical piano. It has now even taken the place of the less demanding substitutes that occasionally accompanied my drive to work. I am able to listen at home now, giving the music my entire attention.   In other words, I am once again able to listen to “my” music with my body and soul, and to experience the healing and restoration, the uplifting resonances and the calming adagios that exemplify the genre.

I am so very grateful to the physician who continues to serve those with chronic pain despite the cultural unpopularity of that service, and who kept working with me until I regained my ability and determination to live. As a special and additional blessing, I now feel as though a missing piece of my soul has been restored by “my” music, and I am finally, wholly myself once more. And more than ever, I believe that music is one gift given to us that connects us spiritually with the source of our being,  and I again experience the connection, in gratitude.

Author: profemjay

I am a retired Professor of Sociology with interests in the Sociology of Medicine, Political Sociology, the Sociology of Development, Social Action and the Sociology of Religion.

One thought on “THE SOUL’S MUSIC RESTORED

  1. I can totally relate to this!

    I still can’t listen to my “old” music because it transports me back to my “old” days when I didn’t have serious pain. The comparison with my current state breaks my heart each time. But, oh how I miss letting my body and spirit flow with the music!

    After almost 20 years, I have to stay out of the grip of the kind of music I always liked, the kind I cannot sit still to. Music always had a powerful effect on me as part of my hyper sensitivity to my environment. Now, visceral memories of “dancing till I dropped” surge through me unbidden whenever I listen.

    I’ve come to fear the ability of music to transport me to another place, before chronic pain, before unemployment and disability. The return to my present reality is still too painful.

    I’m trying to build up a new starting place, a blank sound-slate, so I can enjoy music anew. My tastes are less refined than yours, so I fall under the influence of high quality popular tunes. Even after 20 years, the songs I loved so much, the ones that raised my spirits and set my soul flying, have endured and they are still played often enough that they cross my aural path regularly.

    I’m torn between my love for music and being transported to happier times that trigger unfortunate comparisons. I have a terrible problem with nostalgia. While I certainly don’t want to return to my painful ignorance in those days, I miss that wide open horizon of my future, the ecstasy of all those possibilities.

    Age shrinks our horizons by its nature, but I “got old” at 50, instead of 70 as I’d expected before. Your post reminds me of what I’ve lost, and leaves me with bittersweet memories of my past.

    Liked by 1 person

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