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Why Music Matters NOW

Why Music Matters NOW

Around the world, emotional and mental disorders are on the rise. If you want to know why, read or watch the news, then pick your poison. This is in spite of the best efforts of religion, psychology, alternative therapies of all kinds — including music therapy — and medicine. We like to think we know how to deal with depression, attention-deficit (hyperactivity) disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolarity disorder (this one used to be called manic-depression), borderline personality disorder, toxic behavior, phobias, psychoses and deviant behavior of any conceivable kind, and we do have ways of treating all of these with some success, but here’s the deal: there are simply not enough healers for all the patients. We’re losing the war on sanity, and it’s making us nuts.

Look closely around you: do you know someone who seems just a little bit off? Chances are, they are. In fact, most “normal” folks probably have something hidden under the surface, primed like a trigger wire to blow up in your face if and when the magic words or actions push their button — or buttons — as the case may be. It’s part of what makes us fascinating and individual, right?
I was a novice button-pusher for a while, but once I learned not to trip my ex-wife’s triggers, things improved…marginally. (Unfortunately for the marriage, I also learned why she got triggered, and that she wasn’t going to change, dammit, not now, not ever.)
This raises the primary reason Why Music Matters: most folks with issues can’t or won’t get help for them, and choose to endure under self-imposed and life-threatening stress, hidden from the rest of us, even those they love most. Life would be so much better for the rest of us if they did get help, wouldn’t it? The truth is, like my ex, those same folks have learned to get along in life in spite of what the rest of us might call a “disorder” and act as if they were perfectly normal, in many cases, by simply keeping it hidden from the rest of us. Some folks have arranged their lives such that they really don’t have to have much or any human interaction at all. That choice seems like it’s great for the rest of us — one less fruitcake to dispose of properly when the holidays are over — but it’s not so great for the one hiding from society (think homeless Vietnam veteran who can’t even get the words “will work for food” on a piece of cardboard, and wouldn’t know what to do with such an item anyhow — don’t laugh: that’s reality for too many soldiers who served with honor, both in the United States and other countries). In many tragic cases, bearing the weight of a psychological burden is too much to live with, and suicide becomes the only reasonable option. This became clear to me when my best and life-long friend tried to end his life twice: once by jumping in front of a car while jogging at night (which didn’t work — he was in awesome physical shape), and then by setting himself on fire (which worked, but only later on after the paramedics got him to the burn unit and the doctors couldn’t stabilize him). The real tragedy was that none of us knew my friend had any problems of that magnitude
(By the way, this is not about how this or that social center/government program/church has failed to help people in need. That’s already the subject of too much paper and ink. There is help out there, ready and willing…if it could only get connected with the folks who need it most, which is another reason Why Music Matters. My friend was a top-earning employee, reasonably religious/spiritual, well-loved in his community, and an excellent father — he had no apparent reason to seek help…and plenty of folks and resources around him who would have done something — anything — had we only known.)
So, we all know someone who needs some kind of help, right? That may include you, and if definitely includes Yours Truly. For my part, I’ve tried religion (several of them actually), talk therapy, acupuncture, and legal mind-altering drugs (anti-depressants); ultimately the only workable alternative was divorce. I’m not joking: nothing you can do for yourself can fix someone else’s issues, so often leaving them behind becomes the only reasonable — and sanity-preserving — thing to do. Do I need to mention the homeless Vietnam vets again? Profoundly left behind. At the same time, as hard-headed as I am, I actually started to learn something from my ex…but that’s not the subject here, and it’s already the subject of too much paper and ink, redundancy intended. My point is that the folks we know, and in many cases care about very deeply, more often than not do not respond well to our best efforts to “help.” In the case of my friend, we didn’t even know there was a life-threatening problem. So what can we do? Honestly: not much. Someone who hasn’t experienced any other way to be/behave/live/love has no reason to want to change just because we say it would be better (what do we know about their life anyhow?). It’s like trying to order sushi at a hot dog stand. So do we give up? No, there is an option: we change the language.
Music Matters because it helps to remind us that there is a universal language that can give folks who don’t even know they are suffering a glimpse of a different way to experience being/behaving/living/loving. Unlocking that experience is the primary goal of my work; if, at the end, I have convinced you that you can, on your own, open a magical portal to a better experience of being/behaving/living/loving, then I have done my job, and you will yourself experience Why Music Matters.


Ready for a deeper dive? The Music Care Quest, a fully-mentored online active-learning experience will immerse you in practical ways to meet life’s challenges with skills you may not realize you already have. It’s not for everybody, but you are that unique individual who really resonates with with the power of music and wants to learn to wield it with skill, give it a try. The landing page is here.

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