I’m learning to love myself again. All the flaws and idiocincracies that add up to me. Loud, bossy and incessantly talking. Quiet, reflective and sensitive. I have a huge issue with being boxed into a single character type, and person. Those that know me well, will confirm that in company I’m great at finding the common ground, keeping the conversation alive and showing that bright, bouncy, enthusiastic and energetic me. It confuses people when they get past that part of my personality to find a person that loves to sit and read, think, listen and enjoys my own quiet company.
I often wonder if having four children has forced this acceptance of my diverse character. As a child I loved to read, and my health dictated plenty of alone time. In my late teens and early twenties I found myself constantly busy, always needing company and to have a full social schedule. Perhaps I was running away from mySelf? I’m not sure, but it’s liberating to be at peace with both sides of my coin, finally.
The circumstances I find myself in, mean that there is nowhere to hide. I am mother of four incredible, but demanding children; although I could choose to leave the older ones to babysit regularly, as yet I’m not quite there. I enjoy that time alone when they are settled in the evening, or are all at school and I can sit and read, and reflect. It would be so easy to hide in company or at the bottom of a bottle instead of dealing with the challenges I find myself facing. I have intentionally left myself swathes of alone time, to grieve and grow. I’ve read, and listened to music, sung, looked at photographs and pictures searching for peace.
Two of my daughters are at the beginning of their musical journey, on piano and guitar. All five of us sing, and music has become the soundtrack to our lives the last few months, whether it’s the iPod and speaker playing our eclectic tunes, or one of the girls strumming away and singing. I’ve found music to be like poetry, a way of connecting to my experiences and thoughts when all is lost, or I need picking up again. I listened to a kodaline song “talk” over and over at the end of the summer. I allowed myself the floods of tears and grief I needed. The lyrics articulated exactly how I felt and where I was at, at that point.
“I can remember the good old days, Where you and me, we used to hide away, Where the stars were shining or the sun was blinding our eyes.
Yeah, you filled up my glass, With promises that could never last, But I still find pieces of you in the back of my mind.
And all of the things that we once said, Are not in my heart, they’re in my head, That was the time to say goodbye, Let’s put it to rest, yeah, let it die.
’cause we don’t, we don’t need to talk about this now. Yeah, we’ve been down that road before, That was then and this is now.
The crowds in my heart they’ve been calling out your name. Now it just don’t feel the same, Guess it’s over, yeah, we’re done.
I heard you made your way downtown. To the place I’ve been hanging around. I was looking for your face in the crowd. But trying to keep my head down
Over time our wires crossed, Well you changed and the truth got lost, All the things I would change if we could only rewind.
You were a moment in life that comes and goes. A riddle, a rhyme that no one knows. A change of a heart, a twist of fate. Couldn’t fix it, it’s too late”
I sobbed relentlessly every time I heard it, but had a compulsion to keep listening, over and over, like an addictive carthesis. Allowing myself the waves of overwhelming grief that flooded my heart. The realisation that there was nothing left to be done to fix how I felt about that aspect of my life, was summed up perfecting by the lyrics and tone of the song. It ends by becoming increasingly uplifting into a crescendo of sound that to me felt like breaking free.
I finally was able to listen to it without tears a few weeks ago, but that song will forever hold every drop of emotion I felt in that time period. Forever.
The ability for music to resonate so personally, is incredible, and those that dismiss the arts as unnecessary or superfluous to life are in my mind insane. Can you imagine a world with no music, no photographs, no pictures on the wall? No diversity of architecture, the same clothes, cars, houses, schools, and hairstyles. It’s all “arts” – the creative spirit, it’s everywhere; in bridges and bikes, in sounds and sights. It’s priceless, and fills our lives with a pleasure we absolutely take for granted.
The arts have been under attack since the conservative government came to power, although had been chipped gradually away during the coalition, with funding for music, theatre and other art forms dropping discreetly, labelled as nonessential. So what is essential? Housing. Education. Healthcare. Politicians expense accounts and army’s of overpaid assistants? Without the arts to support and give me the outlet for my grief and emotion, I undoubtedly would have ended up relying more on other services, as would my children. We all use writing , music and drawing as a way of expressing ourselves, and as an outlet for joy and sadness.
It deeply saddens me that ‘all that arty farty crap’ is gradually being devalued and considered as less important that maths or English. Maths and English haven’t given my daughters the tools to articulate their grief; music and drawing have. We are lucky in Cornwall, that music and creativity are so highly valued, and this is reflected in our counties schools. What if we lose it all because not enough people give it the credence it deserves?
I embrace all music and art, as do my children. Our tastes are diverse and reflect our own lifestyles and sub cultures; our experiences and friendships. What about you? Is your house filled with photographs and CDs, do you have songs that when they come on, take you back to an exact moment in time, eliciting the emotions associated with that angry teenager, or heartbreak or first love and kiss? What are they? Would your world be forever changed had that artist not ‘saved’ you in that moment, and allowed you an outlet to express how you felt?
We have a few songs that have become our household motivational tracks for when we are teetering on the precipice. Most notably Ben howards “keep your head up, keep your heart strong”.
A song about being lost, the sea, and searching for happiness and your own self:
“I spent my time watchin’ the spaces that have grown between us. And I cut my mind on second best or the scars that come with the greeness. And I gave my eyes to the boredom, still the seabed wouldn’t let me in, And I tried my best to embrace the darkness in which I swim.
I’m walkin’ back down this mountain. With the strength of a turnin’ tide. Oh the wind’s so soft on my skin,The sun so hard upon my side. Oh lookin’ out at this happiness, I search for between the sheets. Oh feelin’ blind and realize, All I was searchin’ for was me. Ooh all I was searchin’ for was me.
Keep your head up, keep your heart strong.
No, no, no, no.
Keep your mind set, keep your hair long.
Oh my my darlin’ keep your head up, keep your heart strong.
No no no no, keep your mind set in your ways, keep your heart strong.
I saw a friend of mine the other day, And he told me that my eyes were gleamin’. Oh I said I had been away, and he knew, Oh he knew the depths I was meanin’. And it felt so good to see his face, Or the comfort invested in my soul. Oh to feel the warmth of a smile, When he said “I’m happy to have you home, ooh I’m happy to have you home “”
Ben Howard saved me, as David Bowie did my friend, and countless other artists have guided and helped endless individuals express how they are feeling, providing an outlet for loss and sorrow, or joy and laughter aswell as all that falls in between; love and life. The next Davids, and Bens, and Arethas are learning to play piano, or sing on a stage as we speak.
Surely that’s worth saving?
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