Drowning in the Now

I gave up music for the past two weeks. In as many shapes and forms, I stopped listening, playing, hearing, buying, music. This is not an easy thing for me since I’ve been submerged in music in some form or another sense I was a wee one. Music is as normal to me as breathing, and sometimes just as essential. It can, also, suffocate my ability to hear what is happening in the Now.

To give an idea of how long music has been core to my life, I still remember listening to the Beatles’ ”White Album” watching the power lines jump up and down as my parents drove us to the beach; my first tape cassette purchase was Eric Clapton’s ”Slow Hand” in 1978 – I was 5. Not much later I stood in my parents’ room, in my pajamas, watching Itzhak Perlman, crutches and all, playing violin and turned to my mom and said, “I want to be able to do THAT.” Thus, started my first of eight instruments I would learn to play.

Music is pretty much a constant in my head if not outside of it. I wake every morning with some song in my head, and even after two weeks without, I still woke every morning with something playing like a radio in between my ears. Words more than not come through my head as song. Every person that talks sounds like music to me, has a certain rhythm and cadence that is akin to song. (Which is probably why I can hear how things are said better than what is said).

So, when I gave it all up these past weeks, it brought a significant silence to my world. And its absence has sweetened its return. I hear things I lost in the ever-present-ness. I would even go so far as to say parts of me went dormant as if planted parched ground waiting for rainfall. There is color to the sounds that had grown as faded as a Technicolor Polaroid from the 1960’s.

Giving up music gave me ”the music of what is happening.” “The music of what is happening, that is the finest music in the world.” Granted, the past and the future rushed in to fill the spaces at first, pushing out the Now. The best parts of me know the Now is where things are, where life is at its brightest and most lucid. That doesn’t stop the other parts from distracting me elsewhere. Not to mention how it fuels relationship, the Now, giving them life or making it clear there never was one to begin with. I suck at the Now, but it truly is where the music of what is happening dwells, the only music that matters in the end. Or as Matisyahu sings, ”Shout Loud, breath in, won’t you Drown in the Now.”

The first song I heard when I started listening again? Frank Sinatra’s ”Summer Wind"