Just shut your eyes for a brief moment and imagine the world without music. I'm trying it as I write this and I'm unable to! Or rather, the experience , even if I manage it, is of extreme debilitation, of feeling crippled by blindness or by the loss of some such primary sense organ. Not surprising at all, on hindsight. Music is after all what life is really made of , if you look at it a certain way. Even if we're not actually engaging in listening to, singing or playing music it is still there- an all pervasive, awesome yet gentle force driving everything in this world.
Music can be defined as sound that is made of vibrations that are regular. These vibrations have a cyclical quality repeating a pattern in regular intervals creating a specific 'pitch' or frequency, the stuff music is made of. Well, if we were to use this definition and expand our minds we can see the all pervasiveness I referred to earlier.... Let's list just some of the many things in our life that are cyclical, regular and have a rhythm.... Day and night, the cycle of seasons, the waxing and waning of the moon, a woman's period cycle, the circle of birth, ageing and death that repeats with unerring precision to every single being on earth..... The list can go on.
To be honest I have had for a long time, till recently, a pretty linear notion of things. The belief that things usually don't go deeper or wider than they seem and most things can be explained with a simple set of logical rules! As life kept unfolding, I began to see how ridiculous I had been all the while. The world, life and its components began to seem far to complex and layered for my mind to be able to make sense. Death pervaded my otherwise cocooned existence with seeing some family members pass away. I saw suffering of so many kinds.. emotional, mental and physical. I saw chaos everywhere, in places and situations where I would've otherwise forced myself to see order. I saw loss and pain. I saw people in close circles go through financial distress. People I knew lost their children to accidents and suicide. There was pain in so many other forms less obvious and dramatic but no less traumatic.I myself went through phases when I suffered intense panic attacks and developed an eating disorder. But, along with this distressing disillusionment came also a 'sense' of something deeper at play. And increasingly I took to reading about people's views and experiences with spirituality. I also renewed my passion for music and finally a genuinely fulfilling career started to seem possible.
Music was something I had been learning from my childhood but never took seriously enough. During the process of unlearning my old understanding of the world and learning a new one, I started to observe some striking patterns. Something that linked music to almost everything. I mean this in both a loose sense and a strict one. The former, I noticed in small everyday things. Almost everything that I found reasonably pleasant or acceptable to my ear from everyday sounds were actually musical. The mellow hum of an airconditioner, the rhythmic rattle of a ceiling fan, the almost lullaby-like beat of the heart when there is complete silence. The more profound stuff came to my mind in slow but dramatic revelations.
I'll start with health. I found actually that I fell sick whenever my body 'cycle' went out of 'rhythm'. My body had to follow rhythmic, almost musical regularity with sleep, food and exercise for it to remain fit. Any disruptions were 'discordant' with my body and whenever my body would go out of 'sync' with my routine, I would become unwell. Exercise, something that is good for the body I found, was all about rhythm... The steady pace kept on the treadmill, the rhythmic movement during abdominal crunches, the tempo kept up during aerobic exercises. Then I started to look deeper and realised that our body is actually a musical machine! Everything is about rhythm.... The heart, digestion, sleep, sexual intercourse, bowel movements, walking etc etc!!
Now how about the cycle of life itself? A repeating pattern with every single living thing on earth? A being is born, it grows to maturity, reproduces, ages and dies. As humans we celebrate such events in our life and have rites of passage. Our birth, growing up into adulthood(spearation from parent), marriage(mating), having kids(reproduction), retirement, growing old and our death. Whenever anyone doesn't go through these phases fully or has trouble with a phase the person faces emotional and mental dissonance . As much as we may think that we have managed to break free from this mundane, rather monotonous course, we do suffer when there is an anomaly or a discord. I can see rhythm, music and pattern now in almost all things wholesome and beautiful in life which leads me to contemplate the ever elusive answer to the question 'Why is music what it is? Why does it move us so? '
I understand now that music is too primal, too basic a component of existence for us to ignore. It certainly must be one of the building blocks of creation, of divinity, of god! And it is through music, I believe, that we are able to experience the divine effortlessly. Then came the curious question, if music is a slice of god, can music heal? Yes it is increasingly being believed so. Music therapy is a fast growing field. But the more profound question in my mind was, 'Can music heal us spiritually? in a way only a miracle or god can?'
When we heal spiritually, we heal in all ways..... Intellectually, mentally, emotionally, physically. Could this therefore be the master key? A key accessible to everyone, at all times without external help. This quest has led me to have a strong hunch that it can! And I think I know when a hunch comes from deep within, like a knowing that has always been there but has come to the mind anew.
Hmmm this is as far as I've reached in my quest. For now I sing a song a day... A small encounter with god everyday. Hopefully one day it will lead me to answers that I seek, answers that may have an impact on human evolution and growth like never before!
A song a day.....