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  • › This Musical World: The Rhythm of Being

    15/Jun/2021

    This Musical World: The Rhythm of Being, Written by: Mandy Stefanakis for The Music Trust's "Loud Mouth E-Zine".

    Music can help us navigate a path through some tricky life situations.

    We Melburnians [have just had...] another COVID induced lockdown and the weird sensation of it is the feeling of nonchalance, because it is rather routine here in this beautiful-downtown-winter-hath-come-too-soon city. And apart from several upcoming commitments that have taken quite some effort to organise, and may have to falter for a time, it’s okay.

    The flock of media vultures’ 2020 vitriolic attacks over lockdowns and their impact on individual liberties, still seem to dwell in the immediate past. Today, yes, today, these same journos voice their wonder as to why we are not locking down now. NOW! NOW!!! But people, the common folk, get on with things. The supermarket shelves remain replete with toilet paper, pasta and rice and the masses queue respectfully, mask-clad, distanced from each other, as they await kind and patient medicos who show immense care and concern for each of them. I drive home from the Exhibition Buildings after receiving my jab and at the end of Brunton Avenue, what used to be ads for escort services, now depict what has become in Melbourne, iconic street art in support of the equally iconic role of health workers during the pandemic. I’ve just appreciatively experienced it first-hand. Is there something in my eye? [picture of one of Melbourne’s Murals].

    I turn up the music. Immerse myself in it. It’s soothing in its familiarity and reminds me of last year when at home, my musical outlet was playing cello. I only listened to other music in the car. That was pretty restrictive when one could only venture 5kms from home, but it became a reward for me, a self-imposed treat, so I left it that way.

    It’s strange how the rhythm of music, the familiarity of it, becomes pivotal in getting one through trying situations, whether through listening, playing or writing it. And as soon as one find’s oneself back in that situation, it returns as a reminder of optimism and the underlying goodness of human nature, if we could only shake off the people who claim to run the joint. They are not so good for us.

    The polymath, Oliver Sacks, was besotted with music. He wrote about the time he broke his leg causing immense damage to it, after an altercation with a bull on a steep, Nordic mountainside. Knowing he would die if he remained there overnight, he relates the experiences he went through at the time, to secure his life, both physical endeavours, known by him as a knowledgeable doctor, and also mindful ones which appeared to draw on an array of forms of consciousness. The familiarity of music, the rhythm of it, the mantra of it, boosted his mind’s reserves and his motivation. It came to him unguided, a saviour in a storm.

    I guess people have all manner of things in the backs of their minds constantly as they operate in the world. I feel blessed for that something to be music. It’s just always there. Some people would scoff at this phenomenon, labelling it an ‘earworm’ or a meme. But I’ve figured out its actually there as a wellbeing mechanism and feel as lucky to have it, as Sacks did when he really needed it, whilst enduring a much more precarious state on that cold mountainside.

    Musicked Down the Mountain: How Oliver Sacks Saved His Own Life by Literature and Song at https://www.brainpickings.org/2015/07/09/oliver-sacks-a-leg-to-stand-on/.