Says Who??

Verstehen, through shared perspectives


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STORMS WITHIN AND WITHOUT

pain photo

What a week it has been! Of course, seen in the broader contexts of the divisive national environment, natural disasters, global political and social issues, my own problems are barely a speck of dust on the scoreboard of the Universe. Nevertheless, they have soul-shaking impact on my personal world. As they say, major life events tend to occur in triplicate, and so it has been for me. Ending what had been an important and life-affirming relationship now turned toxic; having to give up working with a community group that was very important to me; and finally having a corporate relationship severed without warning—all within three days—pushed my stress and grief levels to what felt like lifetime highs.

During the two dark and stormy days when life outside my windows seemed to echo the gloom and chaos within, I minimized my contacts with the outside world as much as possible. Perhaps not the best possible choice, given the inborn need for social reassurances and support that my sociological training might have suggested, but my awareness of a profound need not to allow my anger (part of the normal grief progression) somehow become part of the greater anger and hate of our environment informed that choice. My grief, especially for our nation, was already great. This added grief seemed unbearable, even mind-destroying.

Fortunately, I am an introvert. Isolation can be, and often is, healing for me. Having already spent the previous weekend enjoying a get together with friends, followed by spending the rest of the weekend in meditation and soothing music (including instrumental Christmas music!), I believed that I could achieve some balance in my life while at the same time honoring the pain and grief within. It worked, then.

Therefore, I returned to the soothing music and meditation, while experiencing the storm outside merging with the storms within. This time, meditation was wordless and almost without thought. I allowed the storms to purge the anger, and wash away the losses. For two days, while gloomy skies prevailed, the storms raged and abated until all was still and the snow gently falling outside revealed its beauty and peace to support cessation of the chaos within. Not that grief had passed, but now it had stopped owning me. I accepted that entire chapters of my life have been closed.

Because I still live, this, by default, means that a new chapter is beginning. At the present time I have no clue what that will be, nor am I ready to begin it. I need a period of healing, first. I plan to protect myself as much as possible from the outside influences that disturb my soul until I am ready to begin choosing my battles once more; until I can safely allow my rage against injustice to serve appropriate action without being destructive. I am not that strong just yet, but I will be.

 

I awoke this morning to bright sunshine and beauty outside my windows, and I drank it in though my eyes to the brightening of my very soul. Life is indeed about pain and loss, but it is also about beauty and opportunity if I allow it to be. When I open myself to observe and take all that is good within me, and refuse to succumb to the domination of hatred, I know I will be ready to deal with the world once more.

scenic piano


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THE SOUL’S MUSIC RESTORED

 

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.