How do you define yourself? Who are you? If the first thing you say about yourself is about what you do, then you’ve missed the point. I used to start out with wife, mother, nurse. But that isn’t who I am it’s what I am; there’s a big difference. Who you are has to do with your attributes, your inner self, your qualities; what you are describes your roles in life.
I am a parent, was a wife and mother, and that’s how I defined myself. Then I began to realize that what I did had nothing to do with who I am. I spent a couple of months by myself, groping in the dark, to try to define myself as something other than a used-to-be-a-wife-and-mother-but-now-a-college-student-totally-on-my-own. It took some time for me to realize that my roles did not define who I was as a person. Gradually, my mind cleared, and I crawled out of the black hole I had made for myself to find that I actually like who I am. There were things I needed to change; I was a perfectionist, judgmental, and needed to allow others to be who they are for themselves, not because that’s what I wanted for them.
Today, I am still happy with who I am. I don’t expect life to give me anything, but I do expect to take from life whatever I need to sustain me. I will search out what I need; in books, from other people, from the Universe, wherever I can find it. And I think I can help others who might have lost their way. I will never push myself onto others; they have to want what I have and ask. Does that sound arrogant? Maybe. But I believe I have to take care of myself or I am no use to others who might need me. I know who I am and what I have to offer. Do you?
I love music; it can match my mood or change it depending on what I’m listening to. It can also calm me and distract me; make me laugh and make me cry. I listen to a lot of different music from classical to rock to reggae to jazz, folk, and bluegrass. There are times I want to listen to something in particular; there are other times I enjoy putting my iPod on shuffle and just listening to whatever comes up. William Congreve, in his poem The Mourning Bride, written in 1697, said: “Music has charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.” (Often misquoted as to soothe a savage beast!)
In movies, the music can signal what is coming – the rising crescendo in a horror movie for example, or the plaintive melody that accompanies a sad ending. These same pieces of music can affect us whenever we hear them, perhaps calling to mind the particular scene in the movie. Or perhaps we can hear a song that reminds us of what we were doing when we heard it. Or perhaps the song just moves us in a particular way. My most favorite song of all time is “Unchained Melody”, but only when sung by the Righteous Brothers; any other rendition doesn’t move me like their version of it.
My favorite blue-mood music is Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. But again there are several different versions of this piece; my favorite has real bells and cannon. Somehow, the electronic simulations of bells and cannon take away from the piece. One of my favorite memories of the 1812 is attending a Fourth of July concert on the levee in Baton Rouge when the kids were young. The Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra played perfectly; the bells and cannon were perfectly synchronized. I remember getting goose bumps and tearing up at the perfection of the piece. I still listen to the 1812 if I am particularly depressed and need some uplifting.
My tastes in music are admittedly eclectic; I love hearing new artists and new pieces. I may not like them, but at least I gave them a try. Life is sort of like that; unless we venture out into uncharted waters, how do we know what we will like? I know too many people who just say, ‘Oh, I wouldn’t like that’! How do they know unless they try? I think their minds are closed to new experiences; they prefer to stay where they are and be ‘safe’. How boring that would be for me!