Monday, January 5, 2009

my favorite luxury...

I like a lot of different kinds of music, but mostly I prefer silence. If any music that I know or like is going on, I can become totally distracted from whatever task is at hand. Music can take over my mind completely, so that anything requiring careful or analytical thought becomes impossible. Even worse, listening to just about any music can have the effect of it repeating endlessly in my mind for days or even weeks afterwards, which can be especially annoying if the songs are ones I don't particularly like, or thought I liked very much but after hearing them for the five thousandth time in my head I don't like them so much anymore. I suppose on the plus side, this capability that I seem to have of being able to replay any song in my head repeatedly can be convenient because I don't need an iPod or a CD player when I want to listen to my favorite songs, but I feel happier when there are no songs playing in my head and there is only silence.

I sometimes enjoy listening to lively, energetic, "up" music when cleaning house - I can get a boost in my energy level from such music, with the knock-on effect that the work seems easier. Sad music, on the other hand, can leave me with a feeling of melancholy for days, and since I do tend to find the sadder songs more beautiful, I have to be careful not to listen to them too much since I prefer to be in a good mood.

Any kind of interesting, complex, or beautiful music can space me out to the point that it's dangerous if I happen to be driving at the time. I once nearly caused an accident while listening to such music in my car, but fortunately other drivers were paying attention. I rarely listen to music in my car anymore.

I purposely never play music in the car when other people are with me, as I prefer having conversations with people when I am driving. Maybe other people can talk when music is playing, but I don't seem to have this ability. Music takes over my mind and I find it very difficult to carry on a conversation. My children have never been very happy that I never play music in the car while driving them to school and back, but we have had many interesting conversations over the years and I am certain that the silence allowed these conversations to happen.

Before the days of radio and other modern audio devices, most people only ever listened to music at church, concerts, and special events, unless they were musicians and could play an instrument or sing for themselves. I think that the modern world suffers from an unfortunate gluttony of sound. Nearly every public place plays some kind of music, as if silence is some sort of negative state that must be avoided at all costs.

For me, music is a type of noise, not always unpleasant, but always distracting from what's going on inside me. Silence allows me to hear my inner voice and to have control over what thoughts I think and what feelings I feel. Silence helps me to know what I feel and to deal with how I feel. I prefer silence whenever possible. It is my favorite and most valued luxury.


Tango daddy said...

The quietist philosophy I subscribe to that, music soothes the soul whatever that means,but the truth is found in the fact "when you are quiet it speaks and when you speak it is quiet" keep writing we are reading!

marain said...

Thank you so much for writing! It is very encouraging to know that you are reading, so I will try to write something new soon. I've been a little quiet in the last week because I was having trouble with my keyboard, but that's fixed now, so composing will be at least as physically easy as it used to be before the problem, and I will no longer feel disinclined to post because of the aggravation and tiresomeness of having to cut and paste letters.

I am reading and enjoying your posts, as well, and once again I am indebted to you for the inspiration to write this particular post (I noticed what you had written in your profile under Favorite Music about preferring silence), so thank you for the inspiration! All the best to you, Tango daddy!

Tango daddy said...

ditto ditto ditto.

Anonymous said...

I also get songs in my head and can't stop them, and I sing songs in the key they're recorded, even if I haven't heard them for years. I'm a transmitter too. Went to a meditation retreat once. Had a Jewish song playing in my head - one I was learning with my singing group. After one of the meditations in which this stupid song had completely invaded my head, two of the meditators (Jewish girl friends of mine - not in the singing group) each said, "I kept hearing this song ...." to which I replied, "I'm sorry. That was me." We were all puzzled by that.

I've had co-workers who'd blare the radio at work - made me crazy. Who can work with music on? I can play cards, drive, clean or cook with music on. Other than that - silence. My husband likes music on the weekend mornings. I grimace and agree. Then he goes out in the garage and washes his motorcycle or goes surfing!!! ARGH! If you want the flaming music on then stay and listen to it. Otherwise, leave me to my blessed silence.

Music has such nuances of harmonies, bass or drums or tiny chimes or oboe, pauses in timing, swells and whatever. All of that deserves attention and appreciation - doesn't matter what kind of music it is.