On Music

Good music can make you cry. It can lift you up like a current of air, and you just drift. You don’t want it to set you back down. The special thing about music is that oftentimes, you don’t know why it does what it does. And yet you don’t question it. It’s too real to deny.

First, it calls out. Not to you specifically, at least not yet, but you hear it and you wonder. Hmm, your mind says. What is this? And so you keep listening, and whatever was on your mind before is gone. You sit and you listen and your mind is clear and focused.

Slowly, it begins. It starts small and it grows, and then there’s that moment when it hits. A lot of times, it’s like a flower. It starts as just a bud, and you say “what is this curious little thing?” Then you feel movement, just a bit at first. It intrigues you and it captures you. It has your full attention. And then it hits, and the flower blooms inside of you like an explosion and you feel it all at once. That flower is emotion. It feels like sadness, loss, happiness and bliss. It feels like everything missing inside of you is suddenly there, joining you like an old friend, long missed. You open yourself to it, welcome it home. It’s warm and comfortable, despite the way it twists your insides a bit. It feels like every emotion there is, and none in particular. Perhaps you might say that music, music that is true and perfect, music that speaks to you, is its own emotion. Yes, I like that. Music is its own emotion.

And then it has reached you. It speaks to you softly, even if at great volume. The music is happy because it has found you, but not in the way that children are happy. Music is happy in the way that old souls are happy when they find a piece of themselves inside of another old soul. The happiness of music is mature, tempered, wise.

You sit there listening, and you are joined, and then, in that moment, you feel the age of your own soul. Through an eternity of countless lives it has traveled, and yet it is you. You recognize it. In that moment, when the soul of the music has found your own, and your souls are together and content, you know yourself in a way that you’ve never known yourself before in your entire life. In a way that you’ll never know yourself again, you realize, and this is something that the music has known all along.

The music knows that it has to end. In fact, it’s already starting. The sun that is this piece is beginning to set, and there is nothing you can do to hold on to it. But the soul of the music is old, and so is yours, and you understand. You sit together, no longer speaking. You just enjoy sitting with each other, watching the sun set. And yes, you do understand. Though you were tempted to feel sadness at the realization of the end’s coming, your old soul always understood. The end comes to all things, and this is not cause for sadness, for the end of a thing is its significance.

The music begins to fade, and its soul has left yours. It will never return. Even though you may hear it again, and indeed you might many times, the soul of the music has moved on. Each time you hear it, you hear only a record of the time your souls were together that very first time. It’s a snapshot in a book of photos, an entry in a journal, like some small memento. You listen, and you enjoy it, searching for the knowledge of yourself that you had the first time. But it’s gone.

That’s what music is. When it walks off into the distance, it takes the knowledge it brought with it, and your soul is left to itself, sitting quietly, and understanding. The music takes with it the knowledge; yet it leaves for you the understanding. For the understanding is your own, and it will be always.

That is the value of music. Music that is pure and good and true. Music that moves you. Music that you can feel. Through music, you understand yourself.