The death of my dear friend Patty a couple of weeks ago rocked my life more than I initially thought. At the time, I didn’t realize how unfocused I was, and how that affected my ability to work or to concentrate on the simplest things, like watching TV or reading a book. I’m still not back to 100% mental capacity (no comments from the peanut gallery), but I’m getting there.
And how am I getting there? Through film music.
Given my penchant for tears, I surprisingly haven’t delved into my saddest film scores, listening to one score after another guaranteed to unleash the waterworks. Instead, the act of simply listening to film music is bringing me back to some semblance of normalcy.
In times of stress or loss, we turn to the things that make us feel safe. I’m not one to particularly wear my heart on my sleeve around others, so I tend to draw inward and shut myself off from other people until I have dealt with everything. Only then do I shed that self-imposed cocoon and re-emerge back to the light of human interaction and living.
During my self-imposed exile, film music takes on a different meaning. No longer is it wedded to its original onscreen images. It now becomes something more primal, more elemental. At times like these, I listen to film music as a way to think and feel when the brain and the heart can’t seem to move beyond the pain. The power of pure music again asserts itself through the heart and the head, the gut and the soul, coalescing these seemingly disparate connections into a single entity that simply feels.
My choice of film music may seem strange and a tad reclusive. Some people rely on friends and family, others may choose a different genre of music or have completely different ways to deal with their pain. Whatever the choice, we all turn to those elements in life that make us feel one with ourselves and the life around us. We choose those people or things that make us feel whole and alive.
William Congreve wrote, “Music has charms to soothe a savage breast.” But I think legendary cellist Yo-Yo Ma comes closer to the mark when he said, “Healing? I think that is what music is all about. Don’t you?”
I’ve already written about how film music brought Patty and I together one last time. So it is only fitting that this art form that I hold so dear works its magic once again to help me heal. While music will never replace the loss of a loved one, its power to heal is incalculable and for that I am truly thankful.