Friday, February 22, 2008

Music Therapy

I apologize in advance for the self-indulgent tone of this post but I'm feeling a bit surly today. Maybe it's the fact that I spent much of the day today working on another round of job applications while two other colleagues (for whom I am genuinely happy) recently accepted desirable positions. Or maybe it's the fact that my perfect sweet little daughter has to deal with physical therapy because (for whatever reason) her gross motor skills just aren't progressing the way they should. Or maybe it's just because there are so many bloviating idiots in the world who say such ridiculously stupid, self-serving, and ill-considered things--all under the guise of caring about justice and the common good.

On days like this, I sometimes wonder where I'd be without music. I suspect that people who are prone to internalization and excessive reflection have difficulty knowing what to do with their surliness. We don't like talking about our feelings, perhaps because we don't really know how to identify them or even how to talk about them. And I suspect that this is even more the case with men who, as I have been convinced by this book (which should be required reading for all parents of boys), aren't equipped with the necessary emotional vocabulary to be able to do the requisite purging. So we either internalize further and further--which makes us miserable and more surly--or we act out in unhealthy ways, hurting others we don't intend to hurt.

But what I've found is that one days like today, music often provides the vocabulary that I can't articulate for myself. I feel markedly better after listening to just the right song--and not happy songs that are designed to inspire and uplift. I'm talking about angry surly songs that express that anger and surliness through the music in a way that mere words cannot (or at least which I am incapable of expressing through mere words). Today, listening through a live version of Dave Matthews Band's "Don't Drink the Water," Linkin Park's "Hands Held High," and some old-school Pearl Jam seems to be just the therapy I need. Surly songs to express my surliness and I feel much better.

1 comment:

JAK said...

My own experience is that, when you're really down and things aren't going particularly well, in the short term, you don't really appreciate a cheerleader, you don't really want someone to try to convince you to take a more positive outlook on things, you aren't really looking for solutions at this time. What you do want may be someone to just listen, someone or something to commiserate with. It sounds like surly music fits that bill for you.