When I look back at my adult life so far, I can count on one hand the small and exclusive collection of people I’ve truly lost my temper with. One of them was perhaps the most frustrating person I’ve ever met, and another I was tumultuously and disastrously in love with at the time, so they hardly count. Sure, I likely threw the odd tantrum as a child, but while my sister made a daily habit of running through the house screaming like a maniac when she was younger, somehow managing to emit the same level of noise as those 50 or so apes going crazy in their cages in ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’, the stories I hear of my childhood seem to revolve mainly around me sitting quietly with my dummy and my favourite pillow, aka “my pillow and my doo”, unassumingly oblivious to the rest of the world, chilling out just being me.
I suppose one could argue a person’s proclivity toward remaining calm under pressure could be attributed to either nature or nurture, and if I possessed even the slightest inclination toward actually researching the topic — which I assure you, being vaguely contemplative rather than scientifically-minded, I dont — I’m sure I’d find evidence to support both theories. If I were a betting man though, I’d place all my chips on the former: You were born this way baby.
I’ve come to the conclusion lately that we as a people need to forget all our troubles, forget all our cares, and calm the fuck down. I got to thinking about the topic late last night while listening to a mixed CD I’d made maybe 7 or 8 years ago. I should mention that throughout my 20′s I have developed a habit of giving my mixed CDs or playlists long and expressive (if a little over-the-top) names, such as:
- “Cooler Than An Arctic Sled-Dog with Alopecia”
- “Don’t ever date a man again. Unless he owns something equally as or more impressive than a hovercraft.”
– “Remember the feeling of regret that washes over you each time the closing credits of ‘Speed 2: Cruise Control’ begin to roll? Well, for some reason you included three Beyonce songs on here. Think about that.”
- “Audrey Hepburn, Kiss My Ass”
The particular mix I was listening to last night — “Cuter than that monkey you saw when you were hungover at the zoo that time” — contains a back-to-back sample of musical treats so sickeningly sweet that most sane people would struggle to make it past the third song. An hour into it however, I found myself dancing my way to the kitchen in search of cake, twirling dramatically and producing some “TA DAAAAAA!” jazz hands when I entered the room, as if expecting to be met with thunderous applause from an imaginary audience who’d been eagerly awaiting my arrival. Now, for some reason I’ve felt a little stressed lately, which I guess is what inspired the music-fest last night. I say ‘a little stressed’, because by all accounts mine is more a musical comedy version of the real thing. Generally, it goes a little something like this: First I’m overcome with a slightly anxious feeling, furrowing my brow and becoming even quieter than usual, adopting a faraway look in my eye as I ponder why I’m suddenly feeling agitated. Almost invariably, within 5 minutes this thought process steers me toward the same conclusion: “I think I’m hungry”.
On the odd occasion where food doesn’t fix how I’m feeling (and this is me finally arriving at my point), music certainly does. Aside from writing one of my favourite novels, Brave New World, Aldoux Huxley is responsible for putting to words what I consider the most accurate description of the power of music, and even it falls short. He said, “After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music”. We as a human race have been famously unable to fully articulate the true delicacies of music, a fact that inspires in me a tremendous amount of respect for the art form. It seems the further we delve into the process of attempting to explain the wonder of music, the further we find ourselves at the mercy of our limitations. I remember writing an essay about this very topic during my years at uni, summing up by suggesting that while any true lover of music will undoubtedly talk about music and write about music until the moment we leave this world, we pray the day never comes when we’re able to fully explain why.
If Microsoft Word’s spelling and grammatical checker was able to highlight the use of wandering paragraphs that fail to capture the essence of what one is really trying to say, that last paragraph would be lit up like a tacky flourescent sign outside a strip club. And though ordinarily it would frustrate me that I’ve made my point with all the finesse of a 7 year old banging a stick against a wall, I figure a true wonder like music doesn’t remain so wonderous once one is able to rationalise it and place it neatly in a box. So, basically, whatever.
I guess what I want to say is that to all those people feeling angry, agitated, stressed, jealous, annoyed, or who just find themsevles being weighed down by the past or feeling apprehensive about the future, promise me you’ll try something: Gather up a selection of songs that express the exact opposite emotion you’re currently feeling, burn them to a CD (or do whatever it is one does with an ipod), then close off your mind, sit back and listen. Perhaps as a starting point, stop off via Youtube and listen to immortal words of The Youngbloods…
C’mon people now,
Smile on your brother
Ev’rybody get together
Try to love one another right now