Tranquility Through Music

Tibetan Music

I’ve always loved music. My folks turned me on to it when I was a little kid with their albums from Reader’s Digest of the Great Classical Pieces and other such delights. Kinda corny stuff in a way but it got me listening to classical music at a very young age, and then piano lessons for several years in the same vein taught me to appreciate the sounds I was listening to. In fact I was so into classical that when rock and roll came to me I found it too simplistic for my tastes at first. Obviously that changed.

Now my tastes are very eclectic and I love all sorts of music, except that stuff they play on elevators or when you’re waiting for a phone call to pick up. I don’t really consider that stuff music myself. but then a lot of what I listen to would be considered off the wall by many people I’m sure. I like what might be termed space music, “new age”, electronica, or world music a lot, as well as folk, jazz, blues, alternative, eclectic, classical and definitely rock and roll. But I tend to gravitate towards music that feels healing to me.

My partner and I have been involved in a fun project for the last few weeks. He’s been taking all our CD’s and cassettes and putting them on a computer storage unit we have so that I can access them all from iTunes on my MAC and I’m now able to play most of my favorite albums online with only the click of a mouse button. I’m listening to all sorts of things I haven’t heard in years. Wow.

It’s amazing what it’s doing for me. I listen to old stuff I used to hear in high school or college, and it takes me back there, as does the music that takes me to other times and places. It’s a nostalgic journey as well as being in current time. Because of the set up of iTunes I can go thru all my albums, of which I have over 400 now, and just find things arbitrarily or in some sense of order depending on what I want. I browse. This way I hear things I might not generally listen to.

Right now I’m listening to Kitaro, a Japanese New Age/World Music performer whose music sets a tone of quiet energy in my mind. It helps me feel like I’m in a different reality while still being in my own world. I can listen and travel with the music as I write this piece and it gives me pleasure and peace of mind. Both of them are things I need in my daily life and since I’ve been putting all these albums on iTunes I’ve been listening to more and more music every day.

I’m particularly fond of music that takes me to other worlds and countries so I have an extensive collection of what I call World Music only mine’s not just the fusion of cultures you hear from white folks all the time, which I’m not knocking – I love it in fact. But I have a lot of actual music from around the world that I listen to. I call it folk music at its core since it’s often the folk music of the culture I’m listening to. It gives me insight into the rhythms of that culture and how they move and dance.

I used to dance a lot with my music but I don’t tend to do that so much as I’ve gotten older. I need to get back to it I guess. It’s good exercise and makes me feel good to do it. And anything that makes me feel good is a good thing I figure. But I don’t have much room to dance where my computer is set up tho I have some space I can gyrate around in and enjoy it. We recently figured out how to jack the computer into the stereo system so I can have the music playing all thru the house. Now I can dance!

I tend to spend a lot of time in my mind and music really helps me to tone that down and let my demons rest some of the time when I’m engaged in listening to it. It keeps the bad thoughts away so well in fact that I find I’m listening to music most of the time these days whenever I’m around the computer, which is a lot of the time. Keeping the thoughts in line is an important part of my ongoing health routine. I need to stop ruminating so much and focus on what’s good in my life , which I do mostly, and music helps me do that.

I suffer from a myriad array of symptoms that keep my mind occupied with thoughts of doom and gloom too much of the time. Having so many illnesses, from chronic pain,to Bipolar Disorder, to arthritis and fibromyalgia and more, I’ve found that I need to take a multi-pronged approach to my healing. As such music plays a vital and indispensable part of that. I’d let go of it for too long and finding it again has made a huge difference to my life. It’s a great gift.

I hope you have a place where you can go to listen to the music that you find to be the most helpful to you in keeping yourself in a good state of mind. It’s a gift to have it available to us at all sorts of times when we need to calm down or relax and let go of our worries and difficulties. It’s such an easy thing to do for so much enjoyment and benefit. I’m an inveterate music fan and I hope you are too.

Musically yours,

Steve

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Illness in a Relationship

Louie and Steve

It’s a challenging thing to do to be in a relationship when you’re so sick. When you just want to go hide in a hole so much of the time and close the world out. When you feel like you just can’t stand a cheerful face in the morning and wish to hell that you could just be alone and never see anyone ever again. But that’s not how it is when you’re in a relationship with someone. You have to learn to cope differently.

I’m a lucky guy. I have a man who loves me to death and would do most anything for me, and has. He’s really a great guy and I love him immensely and hope to be with him for the rest of my life. This is a different thing than I’ve known for most of my life. I’ve been in several relationships but none that were this intense or had the potential to last as long and be as much as this one. We might even get married but I’d lose my benefits so I can’t. But that’s how we feel about each other.

What I want to write about is the way that I try to cope with living with a basically healthy, cheerful, stable person when I’m so often none of those things. He greats me each morning with  “Yay, Steve is awake and up and about again! Hoorah!” Sounds goofy doesn’t it? And it is. It’s also so sweet it makes my heart clench when I feel so rotten and like I’m the last person in the world who should have someone say something nice about me. Why should I be showered with loving attention?

But I accept it because not to would just be churlish and tho I can be that way I’m choosing not to do that these days. I’ve grown up a lot in the last 5 years we’ve been together, first as friends and lovers and then as partners. We’ve come thru a lot in that time, more than many people might have done. We’ve traveled across the country a couple of times and down to CA twice. That’s a lot of one on one time and if you can travel well together you know you’ve at least got a chance. And we do travel well together.

And we went thru the death and loss of my only brother to AIDS during the time we’ve been together and he helped me thru that difficult time like we’d been best friends forever. He was totally there for me and didn’t ever complain about the difficulties, which there were, and all the problems we had to face with his passing. He earned my trust then and has kept it ever since thru many issues.

I have a hard time not resenting him sometimes tho and I really hate myself for that. It’s unwarranted and unkind, but perhaps understandable in the circumstances. He’s so healthy and really doesn’t understand what I live with tho he does try as hard as he can and he does a good job. But it’s impossible for someone to really understand someone who’s got as many health problems as I do and is in so much pain and distress when you’re Not. It’s OK, it’s just at odds with one another.

This is where communication comes in. Without it we’d be dead in the water. We talk. Not obsessively like I could do, but he’s not that way and so I’ve toned it down a bit and realized that maybe I talk too much sometimes about my problems. It’s good to give them a rest sometimes. But I do talk with him and just let myself be who I am, whatever that is, and he accepts me for that and doesn’t hassle me. Even when I just discovered that I’m totally impotent he just said “well you’ve had a good run and we still have a good sex life so don’t worry. I still love you.” I had a hard time with that one, but he’s right and I know it. He’s stable that way and I’m not so much so. So I adapt and change and grow.

And he’s changed a lot since we’ve been together too. He listens to me better than he used to and he’s more patient. He’s seen enough times of my losing it and at the end of my rope to really get it by now. He listens to me tell him when I feel like I want to just die and he reminds me of all I have that’s worth living for. He keeps me here as do some of my friends, and for that I am so grateful. He may use humor when I feel like crap but I’ve learned that underneath it is a deep caring for me and so I may not laugh at his stupid jokes but I appreciate where they’re coming from and it helps me. And he gives me hugs too. I like the hugs a lot…

Many times I’ve come to him in tears when things didn’t go my way or I hurt too much or I still feel like the world is crashing in on me and he’ll listen and offer some obvious statement about how things might be and it changes me. It forces me to live up to all my ideals about how I know I can be in the world with other people. I have to change my attitudes and expectations and not just to please him. I don’t mean that at all. I do it because he gives me another way to see things that is so different than mine that it helps me. And I need all the help I can get, believe me.

So tho it’s a hard way to live sometimes and I really hate it on certain days I let myself get up and face the day with him every day, open and alive to the myriad possibilities. It’s a great life and I wish everyone who wanted a partner could have one like I do and experience the joy I’ve found and the stability. I’ve been more stable since we’ve been together than I have been ever maybe. I dunno, it’s hard to tell. I’ve been such a mess so much of my life. And I still am sometimes.

But not nearly as often and I know this relationship has done this for me. That, and a hell of a lot of hard work on my part too. It’s work to be in relationship with someone as close as this. But it’s worth it every minute, even when we argue and disagree we’ll talk about the problem because we want to work things out and deal with our differences in good ways that are clean and honest. Honesty is paramount for me. I need to know I’m being dealt with fairly and I do the same for others. And I get that with him, even when it’s hard for us both.

I’m not saying we’re a perfect union. I don’t believe there are perfect unions I guess. But what we have is so amazing to me that it’s worth all the work I have to put into it all the time. I have to swallow my bile and get over myself and just let things be. And he has to do the same. It’s a mutual affair and we’re doing well at it despite our problems. So for me being in a relationship and being sick isn’t insurmountable, in fact it’s a good thing for me and I thrive in it.  I wish the same for others.

Peace,

Steve