The Wilderness Downtown

Another day. Another feeling. Another song.

I woke up today with the feeling that today is going to be one of those days. That kind of day where the words flow, where coffee is not just a drug but a soothing friend and music is the wind pushing me up that hill.

I like being organised, so this morning, after my coffee on the balcony and with the sun on my shoulders, I organised my desk. I made sure the deck table was facing outwards allowing me to look at the grass and sky, but not so I would be distracted and waste my  day pondering life and all its mysteries. No. Just enough of a light breeze to keep me focused on my work but still able to feel the nature on my skin. Perfect weather for a perfect day.

The next step was to stick in my ear phones and press shuffle. I’m not that person who has thousands of songs on her iPod. No. I work in phases, so I have a certain number of songs on my iPod which I intently listen to, which I listen  to whilst jogging, which I listen to when cycling to university, which – at that point in my life – describe who I am, who I aspire to be or the feeling I like to generate when doing certain things. I then change all the songs in keeping with the next phase. Sounds vague? Well, it is. Despite trying to be organised and colour-coding my life, I am extremely vague. This, however, is exactly why music is one of the most powerful forces in my life.

Today, I have managed to outline a plan to my thesis, an organised list. This makes me feel empowered and exhilarated. Yet, what is the part of today’s story which makes it any different from yesterday’s lack of motivation? Music, of course. I never fail to be surprised at how one’s own choice of song can achieve different feats when listened to in different situations. Alexis Murdoch can remind me to breathe when I am running, can help me to focus when I’m studying or encourage sleep when my brain just won’t shut off.

I discovered something completely different today, though. thewildernessdowntown.com is a so-called interactive website created by Chris Milk. It showed me that music is not only powerful at forming pictures in one’s own head, making associations with times in our lives, or with people, or events, but also places; places we call home. Perhaps the words ‘home’ and ‘music’ are the two most comforting words in my world, because they emulate the concept of stability. My family will always be there for me, even if I’m not in the same country; music will always be comforting for me, because it’s something that is unique to me and even if thousands of people listen to a Alexis Murdoch, I will be the only one that feels a strong connection with it because of the person that introduced it to me and the time in my life when it became important for me. There you go; the power of music association.

But, that’s exactly what I found with this website. The Wilderness Downtown asks the visitor to enter the address of the home where you grew up. As at 20 something that lives abroad, this song and the images that were generated almost brought me to tears. Something clicked inside me: I can’t get home in a matter of hours, it’s a full day’s travelling. No matter how much technology has progressed, talking to someone on Skype will never be the same as talking in person. A smile will never be the same as a hug. It dawned on me that music is always there for me. I can pick and choose what I want to listen to, when, with whom and exactly mould the kind of day I want to have just by opening YouTube, iTunes or Grooveshark. It won’t bring family any closer, but music has the power to make me feel elated, depressed, energetic or sleepy in a matter of minutes.

Music is a powerful force, something creative and beautiful. I urge everyone to take a look at themselves. Just think about how you think about music, how it makes you feel, how music can be something personal yet universal. Maybe our music is the mould for shaping our lives and not just the final credits.

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