Music Has Made Me Who I Am

A COUPLE OF NIGHTS ago, I went to my first concert since the pandemic. I saw one of my favorite bands, Mt. Joy, outdoors on the bay in San Diego. The vibes were beautiful.

It felt so good to let go — to be me, to shout and sing from the top of my lungs. We need that release; it’s even better when we can let go together. When we can dance, get primal, and dust off whatever we’re going through.

I have truly missed concerts more than anything during this time.

Music makes me believe in myself when I simply want to crumble. It draws to the surface the feelings stored deep within us; tears come to my eyes when I see myself in the lyrics, when I feel my heart beat with the drum, and my spirit, floating with the strum.

We don’t always know how to be logical, rational, and clear in our thinking. Sometimes I don’t want to think — still, I feel something deep that wants to let go.

I turn on one of my favorite songs, many of which I’ve been listening to since I was in high school, and I find myself again. Music is where I turn when I don’t know where else to go.

It carries us as individuals into a stream of something greater. A way forward, a way out, a way to be seen, heard, felt. Music speaks to each of us and stands for all of us.

Music gets us through the longest days and the darkest nights; it adds beauty to each trivial moment, but maybe those moments are anything but trivial.

Life begins when we feel the breaking of the seams. When we recognize the profundity of each trivial moment and see them as everything. A song lends meaning to each waking second — a walk through the woods or a long drive at the crescendo of dusk where the mind wanders, the body goes into unconscious doing, and you just listen.

It’s all beautiful, the pain and the struggle that leads to true connection. The early mornings when all we want to do is sleep, but we get up and go, we put on a song, one that’s played in our hearts for a long time and always will.

The song gives you a reason to continue. We all have a reason; listen to the music, feel the power of the words. This world exists in never-ending song.

Every day is poetic; each tells of the rise and fall, the grind and grit, the love and joy of our individual tale. Each day elucidates our universal tale — the rising sun and fading moon, the steady rain, the blissful day.

We’re here, here, heaven on earth, where music and art add meaning to it all, meaning that’s always been, meaning that turns weakness into strength, pain into healing, and connection into pure love.

Music has marked my best periods and the low ones; but it always makes things better. Even when the lyrics are dark, they make us feel something perhaps we seldom feel.

We need to experience those somber emotions to remind us of what we’re able to endure, which turns into gratitude. We find solace when we float in the slow tune and heavy lyrics, because those emotions are part of being human.

These are no less beautiful than an uplifting song; a dry and arid landscape holds a different meaning than a lush green meadow, for they are both integral parts of the earth, just as our challenges are just as essential as the feeling of wholeness.

Perhaps we can’t have one without the other — clear skies without the rain, joy without the pain — as life encompasses the full range of emotion contained within each of us.

Music embraces these emotions like nothing else.

Simple lyrics remind me of a time and a feeling of being with the people I love. Of grabbing them by the shoulders, another human being; a friend, a loved one, another human being.

Music to celebrate. To inspire, to change. To think and get lost; to fade into our depths.

Music fortifies through a connection to the source of us which never changes, only longs to feel the light of day. The rays of sun, dirt beneath our hooves, a branch beneath our feet.

Transcending borders, religions, sense of self; music peels back the layers of who we are — animals. It connects us to the birds and beasts, the withering and budding plants — all of life which long to dance.

We’re no better than them, not above or below. We all just long to dance.

The song that took me to Tokyo

I remember the moment laying on the beach, when I heard Gus Dapperton’s song Gum, Toe and Sole for the first time. I can’t understand why, but it hit me hard.

It was early 2019, and I was in the initial stages of planning a trip to Japan with my best friends for the end of the year. I’d dreamed of visiting Japan since I was a kid. Planning the trip was surreal.

I couldn’t stop listening to Gus for the entire year leading up to the trip. Gus and the trip became entwined, as the excitement of planning paired with the joy of finding a new, soul-lifting artist.

Dapperton’s vibrant and powerful songs inspire me to dance through life, to grab each moment by the reigns and sing my heart out.

Life changes and we grow. Music takes us from season to season, experience to experience. Part of us remains with the music in the past, yet when we listen to the same song at another period in our life, the song becomes a curved glass through which to see ourselves anew.

Music as a connection to the past and a glimpse into the future. We bought tickets to see Gus on our first night in Tokyo. Everything was set. I listened to Gus practically for the entire 14-hour flight.

Tears came to my eyes as the plane began descending into Tokyo. The night was rainy and dark; the city lured us in from above — we watched the flashing lights and neon signs blinking, beating, emanating red warmth through the haze.

We touched down at Tokyo Haneda Airport as Gum, Toe and Sole came on in my headphones. I looked at my two friends in the seats next to me; none of us could put the words together.

It felt like a dream; our first rainy night in Japan after almost a year of preparing and a lifetime of imagining.

As those of us arriving from Los Angeles arrived at the Kaisu Hostel, the rest of the squad immediately greeted us with frosty Japanese beers. We made it.

We caught up as much as we could and embarked into the cryptic and drizzly Tokyo streets, eager to get lost. The beat of the song wouldn’t stop playing in my heart and soul; it carried me to this point. We were about to see Gus.

Spirits were boisterous and alive, despite the delirium of the flight and the jet lag from being on the other side of the world.

Uh oh. People were leaving the venue. We all looked at each other, realizing what must be happening. It can’t be over already? We missed the show. We missed Gus! But we were out; we were in Tokyo. Nine Americans with dazed looks on our faces that quickly burst into laughter.

We were out with no other plans, which we’d soon discover are the best plans.

The music brought me here — from the trip’s initial proposal to the street on which I stood in Daikanyama, Tokyo. Music has brought me to the greatest moments of my life, ones I’ll never forget.

Music has made me who I am.

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