When I was a child I spent a great deal of time alone, thinking, it was definitely a time when I was more mindful, less rushed by the expectations of life and the noise around me. It was certainly a different time, things appeared more black and white, complex issues seemed more easily digestible, those that weren’t were not a problem because I had more time to apply my mind to it.
Then we went into lock down and the hustle and bustle of normal life ground to a halt, suddenly I have more time to sit and think. It reminds me that I have always said I would love to be a cat, stretched out in the sun – a cozy warmth of sunlight blanketing me from the elements and life outside the window. As I sit here at my desk, a space that I have more suitably settled into now that my position on working from home seems more probable into the near and distant future – it occurs to me how cat like I have become. Seeking solace and finding my strength as I stretch my toes against the sun-drenched window pane.
It feels comforting to feel the silence creep across my thoughts and I wonder if this is what meditation feels like, something I cannot do very well as I tend to fall asleep. It is as if the constructed time and purpose of meditation renders itself moot unless I stumble across it when I least expect it – at least that is how it is for me. But give me sunshine and a warm spot to sit and my mind does a wondrous thing, it makes sense of it all, everything.
I remember lying cold against the paving in our backyard, a pre-teen, soaking in the sun, spending time alone, eyes closed but aware of the blue skies above and the clouds above my head. I remember reaching up, stretching as high as I could to reach the sky, I remember the feel of the clouds on my fingers, the subtle change of sensation in the atmosphere. I believed I could touch the clouds, I believed I was touching the clouds and I remember asking if this is real?
The answer, if that is what you would call it was an overwhelming sense of life, that this was what everything felt like, how it was all made up, time and space colliding, this was the meaning of it all, like some mathematical precision that I knew would never make sense if I opened my eyes, but for just that moment, at that precise time, it made sense. It could not be captured, or explained and even if it could – it would not make sense to anyone else because that translation was for me.
I have missed those moments, they have not happened often enough, definitely not since forever in my recent recollections. The world I live in is now ruled by time, deadlines and expectations and it has felt like my purpose has been in composing the chords of each of these elements, just right so that the song remains. But that balance depends on a constant, me, and if I can no longer feel safe and warm and have a sense of it all, then those chords will never stay on key.
I know this observation has flaws, I am not responsible for all the notes or all the chords and if I don’t take the time to hear, to really listen, then what am I really achieving. Everything else if white noise, meant to drown out the beating of your own soul, its meant to distract and refract our truth.
I have learnt something recently about music, something that upsets me and my analogy to ‘beating of your soul’, to the rhythm of life and to really listening are not a simple embellishment to help you walk the path I have paved, it is a link to this think about music that I have learnt.
In popular music, there is a tool that is used to enhance the listener’s acceptance of the song, to grab their attention, it is called ‘the hook’. You don’t have acknowledge it, you even like it that much, it is just there, lulling and coddling and you find yourself tapping your feet, singling along. It does not ask your opinion and it does not anticipate further exploration, in fact it doesn’t expect anything from you. That can be comforting in a demanding world, it can be downright welcoming, but it serves only to add to our own disenfranchisement.
I am hearing the same hook in many other places and it becomes more and more evident to me the more time I spend reading commentary on social media, that is lives there too. There are more and more people looking for that comfort in the validation of others, not taking the time taken research and read information themselves (I too have stopped myself from doing this time and again), looking for their answers in the opinion of others, using what other people think and feel to draft their own narrative and my question is, if we are all doing this – then who is writing the original narrative and why have we become so complacent in our acceptance of other voices?
We trusted our own voices once, maybe not so long ago for some as it was for me, but we did listen and we debated and reasoned and decided on a stance and we lived it or lived with it, without fear of public criticism or personal vindication. We embraced our own voices and kept our own council, honoring it amongst others. I can’t say I have never succumbed to the hook, be it in popular music or in the opinions of others but I am learning to sit back, stretch my toes in the sun and listen.
If it’s been a while, and this resonates with you, grab a pillow, make yourself comfortable and join me in the sunlight.