Human beings seem overly emotional. At first glance. And, maybe we are.
Now, is that because we are or because we do not understand the emotions of Earth’s other creatures? Perhaps, we simply do not recognize the emotions of our fellow creatures and so cannot process them to a point of understanding. Then again. Maybe we would be served better by a bigger dose of practicality.
People attach themselves to the strangest things for the strangest reasons. Some people even attach themselves to other people. And inanimate objects. They envelope themselves in memories. The real ones and others. People attach themselves to moments and (re)live those points of time, over and over again. But strangest of all, it seems to me, is our attachment to music.
Human beings appear to have an emotional or other connection to music. Why? Is it merely mathematical or something else?
Music evokes feeling that most other art forms cannot. Music inspires the body to move; everything from a foot tap to a complete karaoke session to the tears streaming down your face. Music compels us to feel. And maybe, just maybe, that’s why it is so special to us.
I have a piano that I do not have.
I have been promised said piano for my whole life. At least with whatever wonky memory permits me to see that notion resonates deeply. That is your piano.
That piano elicits both attachment and emotion. And from more than just me.
My father feels a deep and tangible connection to that piano. It belonged to my grandmother. His mother. Her marvellously crooked and immensely talented fingers danced daily on that piano. For so many years. And I feel the same connection he does. Most of the memories I hold of that woman are nestled in a place bolstered by that instrument. Or proximity to it. Oh my god was she talented. Played everything from classical to classic rock. I loved the way she played Elton John.
Dear old Dad has asked that it stay in his possession for now, “you understand don’t you Peanut? It’s all I have left of her.” And I do understand (which is why it stays with him). But he is wrong. He has so much more of her than he thinks he does. And that all comes down to (my favourite, wait for it…wait for it): perspective. He is her. And so am I. And the brothers. And my wee one. She lives on in all of us. Every time I hear a piano, I think of her. When my little one asks for a wafer cookie, I think of her. Black licorice, cigarettes and jazz music make me think of her.
I look in the mirror and think of her.
It is unbearably difficult for me NOT to digress and spend my entire life going on about her. For me she is truly magical. Like David Bowie in Labyrinth. She isn’t even physically here and she is still the most magical person I know. I loved everything about her.
But it would quite literally kill my father to part with it.
And that is why when he (sort of) asked to keep it, until he is deceased, I agreed.
Tickling the Ivories
I wasn’t under pressure to agree to my father’s request. I’m not sure it even was a request. But I treated it like one and obliged.
There are a couple of reasons why this arrangement breaks my heart. They are reasonable and understandable. But in no way sway the current course.
My father means a lot to me. We have had our version of rough times (I’m not counting but apparently Brother Three is, so if you need specifics ask him). We are here now. And it is amazing. Some of my happiest memories will be of the moments shared with Dad and the wee one. I am grateful for the opportunity to make those memories. For so many reasons. DKA, heart attack, strokes, valleys of indifference…
Witnessing his attachment to his mother’s piano is heartbreaking. As his child. It is hard to see that kind of pain in anyone. But your parent. Whoa. That’s tough. It quite literally breaks my heart to see how sad he is. And I will never forget the day we had to bury my grandmother. He sent them all away. Except me.
Another reason the piano arrangement is heartbreaking is the silence – not from Doctor Who.
As much as I do (and I really do) understand the place it has in father’s heart, and consequentially his home, I simply go mad thinking of it sitting there silent. That would break my grandmother’s heart. Especially if she knew how much joy it brings to my little one (and me). My wee one’s little digits are the only ones dancing atop the keys. Granted, when there Mom/Grandma usually joins him in a supervisory yet playful role. But those visits happen only a couple of times a year. And in a year that piano time barely accounts for a couple of hours.
I wish there was a way to make that piano sing more often.
Like every day for about 30 minutes…
My grandmother loved yellow roses.
I composed an art piece in high school – shortly after her passing – that incorporated a (black and white) yellow rose, though it was not in tribute to her. However. It did help me heal from her passing. And that is likely the main reason I still have that particular piece (and very few others).
But whenever I see yellow roses, like the beautiful dozen my little one gave me on this most recent Mother’s Day, I will think of her. With fondness and happy memories.
I try not to over-emote when I ponder people. Those here or the ones who have departed. WHY? Because I find too much emotion clouds the memory of them. And when it comes to memory, well, mine is wonky enough…
Besides, with all that emotion comes a great deal of feelings and responsibility. I prefer to think about people with an air of practicality. It lightens the load. And stops you being trapped in time…because there is nothing worse than the loop. Whole lives can be sucked in to the loop. It is like a black hole. Deadly.
Music means something different to everyone. But it does mean something for everyone. And it can be SO inspiring too.
Whenever I art (be it a painting, a wire sculpture or a super-elaborate custom cake) I need music. Sometimes it has to be a particular grouping of songs. Sometimes the playlist can be random. But I cannot art in silence. The guy who owns the tattoo shop my friend works out of (turns out he is a guy the old hubby knew back in high school) and I got to talking about it one day. He likes a particular kind of music playing when he tattoos (funny enough, it is not mine or my friend’s particular taste, but…) and it is different than the music he prefers when he draws or paints. I agreed with his notion that the apparent distraction of the sound can actually be a tool utilized for the purpose of focus.
Turn on the tunes and enter the zone…
But as wonderful as music is and should be, people can use it negatively. People use music to escape. To stay locked in a mode. Or a time. Worse, people use their talents and music to spread things that should not be (like the blurb-thing I saw posting lyrics from Led Zeppelin – speaking on love – vs those from someone called Nicki Minaj – who managed to pen a whole song about a stupid hoe). And that, in my humble opinion, is a misuse of its magic. Music is not meant to be isolating. In any way.
FEEL the Music
There is nothing like a good ole anthem sing-a-long belted out at the top of your lungs dancing around the house (perhaps, with hairbrush in hand or as it is in my case, more often than not, a spatula or random kitchen tool). There is something SO incredibly freeing about music. Especially when you are alone. In some ways, it is even better alone. You can play that song that no one else likes, that no one else knows you like. You can play it at the volume you want. Heck, you can even set that shit to repeat!
AND, you can totally fuck up the lyrics and no one will crucify you for it!
Make sure you share the music. When you’re done rocking out.