At Ease

I haven’t felt like this in a while and I’m so happy, I’m on the verge of tears. I feel inspired, I feel enthralled with the beauty of language, of music, of storytelling and memories, of human creativity and the reflections we are of the One who created us whether we believe in Him or not. 

I am captivated by the sounds and the air, the soft light coming through my window. 

I feel at ease again after weeks of inner struggle, sleep deprivation, and disproportionate amounts of stress.

Life can be hard but God is good and beauty is everywhere and I know that everything will be just fine.

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On Liking Things, Pt. 2: Playing the Part

Have you ever heard someone say “you don’t look like you would listen to that kind of music,” or something to that effect? I have. Many times. I used to think that way too – if a person likes a certain thing, they will probably dress a certain way, act a certain way, style their hair a certain way, and so on. But having gone through many different “phases” throughout my teen years and my current early adult years I’ve realized just how strange that is. This applies to all kinds of things, but I’m going to mostly talk about music here, because music has always been a huge deal to me and my taste in music has undergone more changes than my taste in just about anything else.

When I was in high school, my taste in music dictated the way that I dressed, the way that I talked (subtly), the guys I was attracted to, and the way that I saw (and judged) other people in general. Sometimes it would even dictate what I didn’t like (or would pretend not to like). I never really thought about why that was, it just sort of happened that way and I didn’t question it. I even sort of had this idea in my head that I had to like one genre of music more than any other genre of music – I couldn’t like two or more genres equally. My favorite genre was a huge part of my identity, or rather, how I viewed my own identity. When I was into 60’s and 70’s rock, I dressed sort of like a hippie and became somewhat obsessed with those eras. When I was really into 80’s metal I wore torn-up jeans, lots of bracelets and started wearing eye make-up. When I was into death metal and metalcore I wore those same torn-up jeans and black band t-shirts, and started hating most things that were girly. When I was into indie rock and indie folk, I  started wearing artsy-ish t-shirts and became a lot more judgmental and hipster-y (although, I never quite got hipster style down because I wasn’t cool enough). In each of these phases, I would pretend not to like things that would seem “contradictory” to whatever my main genre was at the time. Like, in my death metal/metalcore phase, I would never admit to liking any softer music; when I was in my indie phase, I would never admit to liking something that was on the radio. I would like what I was “supposed” to like and dislike what I wasn’t “supposed” to like. It was exhausting, really.

My first few years after high school, I was still sort of in my indie phase, but I had started to realize that I still kind of liked all the things from my previous phases. I still wanted to listen to a good ol’ Metallica song sometimes. I still liked singing along to Jimi Hendrix and headbanging to War of Ages. But I also really liked listening to Tchaikovsky or chilling out to some ambient tunes by Album Leaf. And, you know, I really liked some of those bands that were on the radio like Death Cab for Cutie and Coldplay. And that’s when I started to get a bit confused. How was I supposed to be labeled, then? What was I going to say when people asked what kind of music I liked? How should I be dressing? Sometimes when people would find out that I liked Megadeth and Metallica they would look at me strangely and tell me that they would never have suspected that. That’s when I saw it. I saw the ridiculousness of the notion that you could tell what a person liked by looking at them. Saying that someone doesn’t look like they like a particular band or type of music is almost as weird as saying “You look like you hate tomatoes.” And yes, there are many cases where people do dress in a similar way to others who like the same things as them, but what I’m saying is that it’s all very arbitrary and relative and it can be limiting.

Currently, I am in a place where I don’t even have one favorite genre of music. I have a few genres that I like the most, but I like them equally. I do have a favorite band, though one of the reasons they are my favorite is that they experiment with different sounds and their style varies between albums and I actually don’t even really know what genre to consider them. Because my taste is sort of all over the place, the concept of identifying myself by any one thing that I like just doesn’t make sense. And I’m beginning to wonder why anyone does that. Aren’t we more than any one taste we have? Can’t we like something without having to look or act the part? I find that I enjoy life more and connect with more people if I like all kinds of things and don’t worry so much about trying to “seem” a certain way 🙂

The Effects of Music

When I listen to really good music, I get this…feeling. It’s very difficult to explain, but I’m sure there are others who can relate, so…those people will get it. It’s not just the lyrics…in fact it usually has nothing to do with the vocals or words (though this is not always the case). It’s the music. When I hear a song that was very well written (musically), I feel it deep in my chest. Like my heart is swelling with awe and is about to burst through my ribcage. Does that sound painful? I don’t mean for it to sound painful. In fact, the feeling often puts a smile on my face. As I read over this, I realize that this all sounds very strange and possibly far-fetched. I think this is because I don’t know how to adequately describe this phenomenon. But I think I’ve seen others experiencing similar things when they observe other beautiful things in the world. I have a friend who just about explodes with excitement when she sees a sunset, and another who gasps at the sight of a beautifully lit photograph, and still another who somehow finds beauty in mathematics (I don’t think I’ll ever fully understand that one, haha). Sometimes, I also get this feeling when I read really good literature or poetry. I think it’s because we are reacting to the complexity and creativity of the One who created it all. And I’ve noticed something with music, regardless of whether or not the artist is aiming to glorify God, he still can, despite his motives. It is the creative ability that God has given him that brings the glory. So, I may be listening to music that was not made by a Christian, but it still can cause me to look upward. I love this. God can take our self-serving deeds and make them into something that we never intended. Also, the fact that we are imitating God, by creating something is quite interesting. The creation reflects the Creator.

So anyway, I was wondering if there are any others out there who know what I’m talking about. Are there particular songs that have this effect on you?
Some songs that always seem to do this to me are:
1812 Overture by Tchaikovsky,
The Crane Wife 1 & 2 by the Decemberists,
The Call Of Ktulu by Metallica (got to love metal instrumentals),
The Dress Looks Nice On You by Sufjan Stevens,
Cologne by Ben Folds,
…and pretty much anything that is sung by a Chorus, especially the one at my church 😉

There are also some songs whose lyrics can get to me in this way. For me, these songs are usually Christian songs. The one I can think of off the top of my head is Building A Sorrowful Loveliness by Telecast (the music of this song gets to me too, but I like the lyrics even more). I especially like the chorus of this song: “Nothing is certain, but I’m certain of You / Pull back this curtain, let your light in this room / And all that’s true, I find in You / The more I drink of Your word / The more I thirst for You”
Various hymns have this effect too, like Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing. Especially this verse: “O to grace how great a debtor / Daily I’m constrained to be! / Let Thy goodness, like a fetter, / Bind my wandering heart to Thee. / Prone to wanter, Lord, I feel it, / Prone to leave the God I love; / Here’s my heart, O take and seal it, / Seal it for Thy courts above.”

heeeeey

Well I figured right now would be a great time to write a blog considering I’m bored out of my mind and I have a few things to talk about. First off…I am extremely uncomfortable due to the heat(I hate California even though I’ve lived here all my life) so a lot of this might seem mindless because my mental state is not….well. 
Well I wanted to talk about yesterday. Yesterday was wonderful because me and my friend Jen went down to san diego to go see Death Cab For Cutie 🙂 I must say it was one of the greatest musical experiences. Well it was the first “real” concert I’ve ever gone to…I mean I’ve seen bands live but like at church and whatnot, and thats not the same…plus I don’t really like a lot of the bands I have seen live. But anyway. Death Cab was amazing, I honestly have no words to express the wonderful emotion I felt while watching them create their genius works.  My appreciation for their music has increased significantly. Another fancy thing about our little trip to san diego was that it is somewhat of a symbol for me of my becoming more independent. This is due to the fact that me and Jen booked and stayed at a hotel….free of parents. So that was kind of cool as well I guess. I have been feeling that sensation of growing up a lot since my mother passed away(for those of you who don’t know, she passed away last month on the 6th) I have been forced to grow up because of that. I have to rely on myself a lot more to get things done and deal with things and whatnot…which is not really good by the way. I honestly could not do it without the Lord. So yeah.

I also wanted to discuss something else. Lately I have been fascinated with the effect music seems to have on people. What is it about music that seems to capture us? It speaks the unspeakable. I really don’t understand how a bunch of sounds has such an effect on us. I don’t know about you, but when I listen to music…I don’t know…theres just something there that cannot possibly be described. 
I don’t know, I just find that to be very mysterious and extremely interesting.

Well if you have managed to read this whole thing…um…good job? thanks?

Goodbye.