Uta Hagen--

"We must overcome the notion that we must be regular...it robs you of the chance to be extraordinary and leads you to the mediocre."

Friday, January 31, 2014

Just Listen

I realize how long it's been since I last posted anything here; my last blog post seems like it was a lifetime ago - but yet seems like yesterday.  So much as changed since that last post about the ever lovely Ryan Simpson and his amazing album.  As much as I'd like to go on and on about how much I adore Ryan's music and update you all on his upcoming album (wink, wink), I actually have a point to my post today.  Well, maybe it's not a point.  It's more like a musing, I guess. 

Over the last few months, I have learned that you can never take a person at face value.  How they look, what they say, and how they seem is rarely the true story.  I'm guilty of this.  I put up a wall and rarely let people see behind it.  I'm not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing, necessarily, but it is, well, a thing.  People do it.  

But what's sad is that most of us (including myself) are so caught up in our own lives that we don't stop to really look at a person; to really listen to a person.  There's always a hidden message, something that they don't want to admit but that they need to admit.  There are a thousand explanations behind an "I didn't get much sleep last night," or an "I'm sorry we haven't talked, I've just been busy."  But we're too rushed, too overwhelmed to ask anything further.  We don't stop for a second to ask a person about their life - in any amount of detail, anyway - we just move on and keep going through life only knowing the face value of a person.  

And the fact of the matter is, at that point, we don't know that person at all.  There are stories that that person hasn't told you: regrets and fears and joys and heartbreaks and passions that you have no idea exist.  

We don't just do this to people, we do this to everything in this world.  We are content to overlook the everyday wonders that we have before us.  We don't stop to think about how amazing it is that I can sit in my bedroom in Small-town, Ohio and type a message on my phone or computer that can reach my cousin half a world away in Germany.  A message that not that long ago, in the grand scheme of things, would have taken weeks or months to make that trip now only takes seconds.  Or how about the fact that I can go outside, get in my car, and be at a grocery store in five minutes and get anything I need.  And if the grocery store doesn't have it, I can take my pick of any of the near-by stores to find it.  That doesn't exist everywhere in the world - and it hasn't always existed.  We take it on faith every day that when we go to brush our teeth in the morning, the water coming through our facet is going to be clean and sanitary.  If you think about it, that's kind of amazing.   But you know what I think is really amazing?  That I woke up this morning.  That I'm alive.  Maybe there's a reason, and maybe there's not - who am I to say one way or the other?  But I know that not everyone woke up this morning.  And not everyone will go to bed tonight.  I might be getting older every second of every day and eventually that's going to suck, but that's a privilege that is denied to far too many people.

We are so fortunate to be given the gift of another day.  Some days it doesn't feel like a gift so much as a punishment, but we have been given the opportunity to live.  But many of us are not living; many of us are just going through the motions to make it through the day.  We're only living life on the very surface of it, but there are so many things we're missing out on because they lie deeper.  Deeper often means outside of our comfort zone.  

Sometimes, though, you need to take a step back and look at your own life.  Seriously, look at it.  Look at the people you have, the things you have, the love you have.  If you don't like something?  Change it.  If you won't change it, stop complaining about it.  On any given day, I can read through my Facebook stream and see nothing but negativity.  I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but we all have it a lot better than our Facebook posts suggest.  We make small things into big things to the point where when a big thing truly happens, we can't appreciate it.  We can't cope with the bad "big things," and we can't truly celebrate the good "big things."  We are conditioned to overlook and neglect the beauty in life - and in everything in our lives.  And life, although sometimes twisted and heartbreaking, is beautiful. Because life is music.

Sure the songs are usually more of a "Bohemian Rhapsody" than a "Her Majesty," but not always.  More often, life is compared to a book - unwritten chapters, unknown endings, and plot twists that will make you dizzy.  But life, to me, is music.  There are crescendos and decrescendos; there are a mix of extremely fast and slow tempos; there are high notes and low notes; there are times of lyrics and sometimes our lives are purely instrumental.  I mean, how many of us have "soundtracks" for our lives?  All of us.  Don't try to deny it. 

When is the last time you put on your headphones, turned the volume up, laid back, closed your eyes, and just listened to the music?  There is something so powerful about doing that; it's like you feel the music inside of you.  It's one of the most amazing things to me, that humans - ordinary humans - can create such amazing magic with words and an instrument.  It's one person's feelings leaving their body and finding their way to your heart, to your soul.  And sometimes, they mirror your own. 

Too often, though, we are content to not listen to our own music.  We get stuck in a daze-like state where our ears just skim over the lyrics and music and we only get the face value of it.  We don't try to break the surface and dive deeper.

When you read a poem, you don't just read it once and move on knowing what it means.  You re-read it and re-read it and analyze it and dissect it.  You dive in in order to understand it, to appreciate the beauty of it. 

With music, you don't always have this option.  With the lyrics, maybe, but lyrics can only convey so much.  With music, you must stop and listen - really listen - to the notes, to the melodies, to the emotion in the artist's voice.  Every note tells a story; a melody holds a thousand unspoken messages.  From this, you'll see so much more than you did when you only cared about the surface.  But you can't do this if you're talking over the music. 

The people you should surround yourself with are the people who see the beauty in the ugliest things.  These will be the people who see past the walls you're putting up; they'll hear the truth behind your vague statements.  These will be the people who know which songs to not talk over.  These will be the people who are perfectly content to sit beside you in silence and just listen to the music.  I've had a few of these people throughout my life, and you truly do not realize what they are to you until you no longer have them.

There is beauty in even the wickedest of storms, you just have to look for it.  Not to be cliche or anything, but the simplest things truly are the most important.  Sometimes we just need to take a step back, put on a pot of coffee, change out of our high-heels and put on our "comfort clothes," kick our feet up, and just be still.  Read, write, create, think, reflect, listen to music, something. 

What good will it do us to go through this life and never question things, to never look deeper into things, to never take a chance?  You only get to ride this ride once, so I suggest you enjoy it.  There is no "replay" or "previous" or "next" button on this playlist - you have to take the music that comes.  Let go, have fun, take chances, be apprehensive of the future - but don't fear it. 

There will always be people who talk over the music.  But sometimes you just need to be with the people who will shut up, close their eyes, and listen.  Just listen.