February 1, 2014

How Becoming a Musician Saved My Soul.

Photo credit: Tim Geers

“Well then, good bye,” and click were the final words for the ending relationship.

More important than being dumped over the phone, my grandmother had died just a week before, suddenly from cancer. One month healthy, the next month, gone.

My beloved grandmother died and then the woman I relied on the most in my life, had loved and given my life to for years, decided to be a swami and tell me her truth and path—it was the worst timing ever. I fell apart.

Grief purified me to my soul, and revealed what mattered most in life.

Until that point in my life, certain things mattered to me; friends, being appreciated, seen, love, yoga, work, relationships, and god. And in the face of death, everything changed. Nothing was certain, the friendships I relied on and the relationship that most mattered to me, were all gone. And I was missing my grandmother—until that point in my life, nobody had died.

It was my first encounter with death and it was painful.

Nothing mattered; grief caused me to lose my mind.

I hid from the pain in the only ways I knew how. I worked too much, and went into a hyper state of creativity. Making videos, artwork, going in walks, doing everything I knew to self nurture. The double whammy of a broken heart and loss of life was more than I could handle. So I also, on occasion, drank myself into oblivion—I couldn’t handle being around people, and isolated myself.

Death caused me to pause and it is the biggest reality check I’ve had to face.

During that time, only one thing kept me going—and that was music.

I listened to every kind of music available, as long as it wasn’t played on the radio. I’d even sleep with music playing, to comfort me. In the course of a few short months, my musical exploration exploded, covering the globe.

Music became my life, when I didn’t even want to be alive.

Music was the only avenue for me to feel something other than grief; music gave me hope and life.

More than listening to music, making music was essential for my health and sanity.

At this point, I had been playing hand-drums for six years and the didgeridoo for five years. The home I lived in was concrete. Playing drums and making noise at any hour of the night was doable. The only neighbor who might hear it was totally accepting of my musical expression, and he could rarely hear me playing even when I was lost in expression. Anything musical became a fascination, and I recorded, looped, and sampled just about everything audible. I even broke a table when using it for a drum.

Music was a way to express the language of my heart in a way that words failed.

Before language is emotions and feelings. Grief and love have no words that satisfy the intensity of feelings. Being able to express my soul through music was the most integrative and healing action in my life. No amount of dialogue, therapy, spiritual conversations or booze could quench the fire burning within the same way that a little bit of music could.

And when my soul could speak what it needed too, and hear itself and feel the vibrations of the non-verbal, energetic language the healing happened naturally.

In the time since then, I have explored music in so many varieties of expression. Having been a part of bands, performed kirtan, doing live music dances, meditation experiences, spontaneous jam sessions, professional orchestra, and scientific experimentation are all amazing.

Music is the most complete science ever created.

It gives a language to the soul. Music is a science, an art form, a language. It has the power to heal, to change the mind, and alter history. Music can destroy political regimes. Music can bolster the ailing body, nurture the hurt spirit, and carry the soul into ecstatic bliss.

In the five years since that death and transformation, I’ve delved into music with hungry fascination. Learning many more instruments, musical theory, ancient history, and creating my own compositions has been fulfilling in ways that no mere job could ever satisfy.

When I play music, I meet people, they are drawn to the music like magnets. Music brings families and community together. People who share with me their fondest memories of their family often include music, especially if their beloved was a musician.

Music saved my soul. It carried me through grief, death and agony to this present moment.

And I am forever grateful for how sweet the sound that saved a soul like mine.


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Editor: Bryonie Wise

Photo: Tim Geers

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