The Soundtrack of Our Lives
“Let the music play, he won’t get away…” Shannon crooned in 1984. Jeans jacket, boys and cruising the strip with my older sister. Those memories will stay with me forever because the music didn’t fade even when my schoolgirl crushes did.
Music, the sonorous accompaniment of our days. It reminds us of the most monumental moments in our lives: the first kiss, a wedding, summertime or grief. Music frames us. It gives us meaning. According to the Journal of Music Therapy, exposure to certain kinds of music have even shown to improve verbal fluency and speech content in Alzheimer’s patients.
In a phrase, music can heal.
So when musicians die whose creations informed our adolescence, our year abroad or, later, the lives of our children, we experience a deep loss that moves beyond its sonic expression to the very expression of ourselves.
Music is personal. Michael Jackson’s passing was personal. So was Amy Winehouse’s and, most recently, that of Whitney Houston.
When people die “too young”, we are particularly outraged. Where is the sense in it? Cut down at the prime of their lives? And when an entire liturgy of music, our music that was actually theirs that they share with us to make it our own, goes with them, we feel cheated and alone.
We are reminded, then, not of the beach, or our first mate or the birth of our children. We are reminded of the bank account of time that each of us has. We are faced, if only for one E! episode long, that time is all we have. And as the late and great Carnegie Mellon Professor Randy Pausch, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, said in his famous Last Lecture, “Time is all you have and you might find one day that you have less than you think.”
That is not to say we should live in a time-starved state, watching the units on the clock tick away our lives into nothingness. Instead, we are called to embrace time abundance, embedded in gratitude, for that which we do have.
And when we let the music play, we will be reminded of the soundtrack of our lives with all the ups, downs and in betweens that made us, and the artists who were at our sides on the journey, who we are.