I was so unaware at the time of how blessed I would be when B started therapeutic riding with me. I’ve given riding lessons for twenty years, but had really never dealt with the “handicapped” because I didn’t have equipment or training. B’s mom didn’t care and asked that I work with her anyways about 6 years ago. And so began a mutual relationship of learning, growth, emotions and MUSIC. B is relatively non-verbal. She has been diagnosed with various ailments including autism. While I could write a book about our experience, my point now is to emphasize the power of music. For years, I knew she loved music. Early on, I realized that her amazing brain held the titles and tract numbers of hundreds of songs from multiple artists. She rarely spoke, but frequently we would sing song verses together. She can’t share feelings, but her body sometimes shows her emotions. It was not until last year that I realized that she was using songs to communicate. We all do really, but for her, it is one of the only ways she can. When she is feeling a certain way, she goes through the vast jukebox in her mind to a song that represents how she is feeling. If you are patient enough, she’ll find a way to tell you what that song is. If you listen to it, you unlock her mind.
All of us have songs that stimulate feelings in us. I think they fall into two categories. Ones associated with memories, and ones associated with feelings. I’m sure we have all experienced the memories music capture. Like when you are shopping in a department store and there is music in the background and a song that you haven’t heard for years comes on and you are instantly: in a middle school cafeteria for a school dance, or on the beach at a Spring Break party, or praying in church with your grandparents. Those memories pop up as the songs tied to times that were meaningful, and hopefully allow us to reflect on moments that built us.
The other category, songs associated with emotions, are generally found when the words of a song speak to a strong set of emotions that we are grappling with. We typically listen to the song over and over again. Sometimes we share it with people to help them understand our thoughts.
When my ex and I were still married but struggling, I know he shared a song with me that was deeper than I was able to process. I’ve never been a great literary or lyrical analyst. It made me sad that I couldn’t understand. I remember I shared a song with him by Harry Styles, Two Ghosts. The song still makes me sad. “we’re not who we used to be, we’re just two ghosts standing in the place of you and me.” There was not analysis needed. It was very clear what the song meant. It was my period of sadness that our marriage had come to that point.
But with divorce comes a full range of emotions, and sadness ended up being replaced by anger. I was so angry that alcoholism had captured him and wouldn’t let go. I was so angry that he couldn’t overcome it. I was angry that the “life plan” completely changed. And while the song has meaning for many people with various challenges, Fight Song by Rachel Platton became my outlet. I can’t tell you how many times I put all the windows down in my car and took off driving with that song playing as loud as possible.
“This is my fight song
Take back my life song
Prove I’m alright song”
That song helped me stay focused on a very rough and challenging course of action. Thanks Rachel. And it didn’t take me long to realize that the album with Fight Song actually had several other songs that related to things happening in my life, including Stand By Me and Better Place.
What are your memory songs? What are your emotion songs? The blessing for me is that I’ve passed thought the cycle of emotions with divorce, so my current emotion songs are generally happy. Happy music, and peaceful music promotes serenity. If you haven’t already tried that, give it a go.
My riding student B, who nearly always listens to country music, introduced me to a new world recently. We had just finished a GREAT lesson together, and she started saying Bear and Blue House. I don’t have any young kids these days, so it took me time and patience to realize that she was talking about a kids show called “Bear in the Big Blue House.” After I figured that out, she said “Goodbye” and “Song”….well here it is…here are her thoughts, captured in the jukebox in her mind:
Hey this was really fun
Hope you liked it too
Seems like we’ve just begun when suddenly we’re through
Goodbye, goodbye, good friends, goodbye
Cause now its time to go
But hey, I say, well that’s ok
Cause we will see you very soon I know