Sunday, February 14, 2010

My Radio Experiment

I am one of those people that is truly affected by music. Music has always been an important part of my life. I had major reconstructive surgery to my face after being hit by a car while riding my bike at the fresh young age of 10. As therapy, I learned to play the flute to gain control of my mouth again. In addition, I played competitive piano for years. I learned to play the saxophone, and the baritone and even had a short love affair with an oboe (double reeds and I didn't get along well though, so that had to end). I was in marching band, concert band, concert choir, show choir, took voice lessons to widen my God-given alto voice into that of a soprano, even participated in State. In college I was first chair flute in the community orchestra, which was unheard of for a freshman. I was talented mostly because I practiced a lot and I used that talent daily in an attempt to enhance my world. It was one of the only things in my life I had any control over… an instrument. I think that’s why I liked it so much. In addition to playing and being part of music, radio play was also an important part of my existence. So much that if I want to remember a specific piece of my past, all I have to do is think about what song was my favorite at the time. If I listen to that song, it's almost like a time machine that transports me right back with all my senses fully aware of what it was really like in that moment. Simply put, music invades my soul.

My life took a turn after college. Truth be told, I made the turn… it was a conscious choice and it wasn’t a good one. My participation in the making of music stopped abruptly… and then I never ever got it back. Like the old saying, if you don’t use it, you lose it. All of that time and effort, all of that talent and commitment amounted to nothing as I let it slip away by not choosing to stay connected to it. Funny, it was when I let go of tuning my instruments that I began to realize just how out-of-control my life really was.

Radio play stayed an important part of my life though. Here are some musicians that bring back STRONG memories for me: the Monkees, Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, INXS (I went into a deep depression when Michal Hutchinson died), Depeche Mode, Jon Secada (I was sure I was gonna marry him), Sarah Mclachlin, Fuel, Limp Bizkit, NSYNC (yes, embarrassing but true - I was totally in-love with Lance... very funny now), … just to name a few. My first book was written while listening to only one album… “The Long Road” by Nickelback. I called it the soundtrack to “Desco.” I can’t even tell you how many times I listened to that CD… I mean… the entire book was written to that, and how long does it take to write an entire book??? Good memories and ones I’d like to forget are tied to music… I’d be happy to never have to hear the song “Hanging On a Moment” ever again! Booze really was not my friend. Sometimes I’ll hear that song in passing and it makes me cringe… but it’s a great reminder to who I never want to be again.

Since getting sober, my relationship with God has strengthened to the point that He is the most important relationship in my life. Just like with music, it’s real easy for me to stay in my comfort zone with God and only surround myself with Him…listening to the same CD over and over again, never venturing outside of my favorite album (I’ve been known to listen to the same CD for over 6 months at a time). One of my spiritual mentors taught me how important it is to keep myself open to the whole world, and not live my life in a God shaped bubble that only includes people who are also in a relationship with Him, or at least searching for Him. We need to stay relevant, knowing what’s going on the world, experiencing the challenges and reality around us to be able to truly share God’s love with real people in this very real world. Maybe it’s because I’ve been work in recovery so much lately, but that is no excuse, but I noticed several months ago that my world has slowly become focused only on my favorite artist… God. My world is filled with mostly just Christians. Along with that I noticed that my music life has changed to primarily spiritual, praise and inspirational music. It is rare that I listen to secular radio play. Part of it is that I have become a lot more comfortable with silence these days… so I’m not listening to as much music as I used to. When I do have music playing, I want to use that time to focus on God and give Him the praise He deserves. I have come to really like Christian contemporary music… it keeps my mind in a better place, and I need all the help I can get keeping this head under control.

I’ve been wondering how I can make some changes in my life to try and branch out a little bit… as to not just live in a Christ shaped bubble. Two weeks ago I decided to start listening to regular secular radio again. I considered it an experiment. I wanted to see how reducing spiritual sound waves affected my life… if at all.

At first, I listened to mostly talk radio. I found it quite interesting how different the topics of conversations I was hearing on the public airwaves were compared to my normal everyday conversation ear shots. I wasn’t shocked by any means to hear all the cursing, name-calling, talk of casual sex, affairs, strip clubs, boozing, drugs or racism. It didn’t shock me at all, what it did was reminded me why I stopped listening in the first place! But there is a lot to be gained by listening to the insanity of what’s accepted in today’s society. I mean… how could I ever speak with any intelligence about what’s happening in the world if I completely shelter myself from it. For example, when the movie “It’s Complicated” came out, I decided there was NO WAY I was going to see it. The previews basically seemed to show how it encompassed everything that is wrong with our society today. To me, it looked like an abomination to God’s Word… absolutely wretched. I started to hear people talk about what a great movie it was. WHAT?? But how could I possibly have a conversation with them about the message of the movie if I didn’t go see it? No, if I choose not to go see it, I’d have to keep my mouth shut. If I wanted to speak intelligently about the wrong or the right messages in it, I’d have to see what it was really all about. But I digress.

At the talk radio commercial breaks I began switching to music stations and found myself enjoying a good combination of familiar tunes and brand new ones. I have to admit, I was kind of digging it. Jammin’ in my car, remembering the good ole days… soaking in the new lyrics and rifts. Good times! You just gotta love a good love song, I mean really. Who can resist a hot-blooded musician pouring out his heart and soul to the woman of his dreams, telling her how he doesn’t want to miss a moment of her existence. How he wants to breathe her in and keep their love alive forever and ever, always feeling that hot touch and racy beat between them. Yes… good stuff! Made me remember the days when my hubby and I first met. I began to reminisce. And with each song, more reminiscing of things once part of my life.

All in all my secular radio experiment wasn’t going badly at all… until one day I was listening to another one of those good rock tunes about love and I noticed that my heart actually ached for a moment. It was an ache I hadn’t felt in a very long time. A thought raced through my mind, “Why isn’t my love still like that? Why doesn’t my husband love me with that hot-burning-can’t-live-without-you kind of desire? I deserve that, don’t I?? I’ll never have that again, will I?...whoa is me…”

WHOA NELLY!!! Back the truck up, Wendy. I literally slapped myself across the face – hard. What the hell was wrong with me??? I was slowly sliding into a fantasy world I had fought my way out of a long time ago. I did NOT want to go back there! Radio love is NOT real love, just like movie love is not real love. Real love is… well, real love is exactly what I already have with my husband. It doesn't get better than what I have!!! Not that it's easy or perfect... but it's just as it should be. I’ve had that other stuff, that fake love that’s all about stomach butterflies and nervous energy, “When is he gonna call me?”, “If I sleep with him, will he love me more?”, "Yes, I love watching football!!!" "I love all the music you love dear" “He is so perfect… he will never let me down…” crapola and that is all it is… CRAPOLA! Why the heck was my mind trying to trip me into this trap? It was this darned music I was listening to! As I told you before, music invades my soul… it seeps into my heart and mind… it has the ability to change my mood and make me FEEL, or think I’m feeling a certain way. For me… I have to protect myself from the unrealistic fantasy world that society loves to pass around through music and visual means. I’m sure most people don’t have a problem separating music (or other media) from reality… but me… I gotta be very careful. One night during my radio experiment, I had a very un-cool dream about ‘something’… and the devil would have LOVED for me to wake up and smile about it, comb through it in my mind and embrace it. Instead I laughed at him and called it what it was: an invitation to temptation. Good try idiot, but no thank you. FLICK!

My radio experiment is now over and I consider it a success. No, I’m not going to shut secular music or television or talk radio out of my world, but I sure am going to be careful how I use it… and how I limit it. My mind is so impressionable, and as I said before, I need all the help I can get staying focused on the important things in life. Being a musician used to provide me with a way to feel control over my out-of-control world, and what I’ve learned is that listening to music is a good way to hand control over… to society… or to God. I choose God... society is a train-wreck!

1 comment:

  1. Wow, Jon Secada :o) I had a cassette!
    We're all impressionable when it comes to all different kinds of artistic media. Books, movies, songs, paintings, etc. all make us feel certain ways. I think most people are aware of this to a certain extent, especially when it comes to making them feel good. I think you're more aware than most about the possible negative affects.
    It reminds me of the argument about rap music and violent video games. We're quick to point out how the media other people are using is damaging to them, but we're not quite as quick to see how what we experience is affecting us. IMO
    The funny thing about love songs is that they're often not written by the performing artist (who has been married 5 times!) And they're written because it "smells but sells".