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The Soul of the Universe

Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything.––Plato

You don’t really listen to very much music,” my son commented to me a few weeks ago.

That might not be a surprising thing for some people. But, for me, a person who majored in music, practiced the piano at least three hours a day for years, attended 16 concerts every semester in college, and was involved in music all day long, to now only listen to or make music maybe an hour or two a week, it’s a big change.

Am I ok with this new S Curve – the one where music is not much a part of my life?

I suppose I thought I was. 

But that question, combined with several experiences over the past few months, has caused me to reconsider.

During the pandemic, we started watching K-Dramas. A powerful story combined with music (like Mr. Sunshine) has helped me feel a broader range of emotions:  bittersweetnesslonginghappiness, and delight.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve started playing the piano again, at least a bit. In truth, it’s a little daunting because I know how accomplished I once was, and it’s difficult not to compare. Nevertheless, there are moments of delight like yesterday when I sight-read a few simple Bach minuets.

I’ve also been taking voice lessons. I started because I needed to improve how I speak for podcasts and speaking engagements, but the speech lessons involve singing as cross-training. It’s helping me find my literal but also figurative voice.

But I think the musical tipping point for me has occurred during the past few weeks while I’ve been studying the Biblical Psalms. These are ancient lyrics to songs of praise. Having read them and listened to several commentaries around them like this, I found myself overcome with happiness, joy, and tears by this song, and I love this song too.  

Maybe you will like my music; perhaps you won’t.

What matters is that music helps us feel and live life more deeply, more profoundly.  And building on my dominant question, how do I find joy today, that Jason Feifer and I discussed on the podcast a few weeks ago, music helps me find joy.

In his book This Is Your Brain On Music, Daniel Levitin talks about how we love music from our teenage years the most because these growing-up years are so emotional, and our still-developing brains tag the music we listen to as important.

But listening to music can play an essential role in our continuing growth and development beyond our adolescent years. I think we need to be open to listening to new music. Maybe we perform music, or maybe not, but almost all of us can listen to music, and most of us do. The soundtrack of our youth may continue to be very important to us, but as we listen to new, different music, we can create and tag new memories. We can continue to grow and find ways to utter things that we otherwise couldn’t express.

This week’s podcast guests are Stephen M.R. Covey and McKinlee Covey. We’ll talk about the importance of not only being trustworthy ourselves but also trusting others.

Do we trust that others will show up as their best selves? That they will do their best work? Do we extend that trust to other people? I wonder if how much we trust others correlates to how much we trust ourselves.

Hoping you will now listen to a song that delights you!

My best,
Whitney

P.S. A music-related podcast episode I especially love is our episode with Livingston Taylor