Thursday, June 14, 2012

Let The Sun Shine In

I love summer. Not just because it's warm and I'm not working as hard as I do during the school year (but still working--ask most teachers about the idea of summer's off), but because I get to "do me." I spend at least a week or two trying to remember what exactly I do when I "do me", but slowly and surely, I pick it up again. And then some, because there's too much to do and know in this lifetime and only so much time to attempt the futile task of understanding it all.

After my brother died a couple of years ago, I went numb. I went through the motions of living--and even managed to fall in love--but failed to remember to do me. And here I sit, two years later feeling burned out and unsure of how to recharge myself so I can continue to give what I have to offer to others. Maybe those things are connected, maybe I'm overthinking--I don't know. What I do know is that this last year I came close to a breaking point...and I wasn't going to surrender so easily.

So I remembered one of my primary passions: music. Last summer, I became obsessed with the music of Ray LaMontagne and wanted to know where he came up with his material. A lot of it is actually poetry. So I listened to everything of his I could manage to find and did some research on his life (but didn't come up with much, because the man is very, very private and reclusive.) In any case, I saw him live at the Basilica Block Party last year and wept almost the entire time--his music spoke to me that much. His music struck that "chord" in me.

This summer, I've moved on...or backwards...or something. Now I'm obsessed with Neil Young's music. I've listened to Neil Young's HARVEST recording for years then phased into HARVEST MOON a couple of years ago. Last summer while driving the gravel from Portal to Northgate, I heard a radio special on Canadian musicians, and of course he was featured. The song they chose to play was "Harvest", off the recording by the same name. It's been on my informal Bucket List to see Neil Young perform live before he packs it in and buys a pickup and drives it down to L.A. Lo and behold, he will perform at the Hollywood Bowl in L.A. on the day after my birthday, and I'm going! I'm on a Neil Young binge now, but it feels like I'm going to need to double-time this foxtrot because he's been recording for longer than I've been living.

What I've been thinking about is how music can heal a person, how others' stories in songs/poetry can cull our ethos and begin to make us feel whole again. Maybe when I was so into Ray LaMontagne's music, I was feeling around the dark corners for the soft, sore spots of my psyche. Now, with Neil Young, perhaps I'm beginning to wonder and be curious again.
Or maybe they're just both really good musicians and I'm overthinking the "why" and not focusing on the "what" enough. Why, whatever is that? Oh, yeah--that's me.