… from the bungalow

Quiet Is the New Loud

8 Comments

Music has always been a part of life for me. I started playing the clarinet in 5th grade and that was my main instrument through college. Over the years, I added a few instruments to my repertoire including the mellophone, acoustic guitar, alto saxophone, a bit of piano, and a handful of percussion instruments. I earned a Bachelor of Music in Music Therapy from Michigan State University in 1999, and have worked in and out of the field since then. I’ve played in concert, symphony, jazz, community, marching and praise bands, and I’ve sung in MSU’s State Singers and Chamber Choir.

So it should go without saying that I listen to a fair bit of music. I’ve been exposed to music as a student, a parent, a therapist and as a general appreciator of the arts. I’ve heard lots and lots of music and discover new-t0-me artists on a regular basis, yet I always feel like I’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg.

Music elicits emotional response, to be sure. But musical preference can be a mysterious thing. What I like may not be congruent with what you like for lots of reasons. Exposure, experiences, personality, connection, relevance, etc. In my elementary years, I listened to artists like Michael Jackson and Billy Joel. In my early teens it was Sir Mix-a-Lot and Public Enemy. In my high school years, I shifted to bands like Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Morphine, Rage Against the Machine, and on and on. My point is, as I grew, more and more artists came into view, and tastes changed and evolved as my emotional development and life circumstances did.

Maybe my spiritual growth over the past few years, then, has helped dictate what I’ve been finding more meaning in lately. It’s artists like Eva Cassidy, Nick Drake, Lisa Hannigan and Regina Spektor, to name a few, who currently dominate my listening queue. These artists share one particular quality that stands out to me:

Vulnerability.

Such soft voices singing powerful lyrics over sparse or quirky musical structures give me chills and often bring me to tears. I think it’s the sense of quiet strength that appeals to me spiritually, like a mantra repeated silently through breath in meditation. These artists give something of themselves in their music. As many times as I’ve listened to Eva Cassidy’s rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow, it still makes me cry almost every time, especially right around the 4-minute mark.

Do yourself a favor and take a few minutes to listen to this song. Intentional listening is what we’re going for. Press play, close your eyes if you feel so moved, get quiet and really take it all in. Pain, longing, strength, beauty, hope… It’s all in there.

Even if it doesn’t suit your musical taste, I’m confident it stirred up some kind of emotion. More importantly, I hope you’ll see just how powerful gentleness can be. In a time of fierce competition for jobs, civil unrest around the world, parenting, political commentators shouting at us and spinning stories for the sake of news-worthiness and even the simple aspects of daily living, we need ways of unleashing our underlying emotions and feeling empowered and in control. This is one such way for me.

The next time I feel the urge to shout at another driver or one of my kids, the next time I get angry or fearful and feel the need to exert control over another human being, may I remember this proverb:

“Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is another paradox: what is soft is strong.” ~ Lao-Tzu

Enlightening from the bungalow,

Chris

What is one of the ways you find strength. In what situations have you found that quiet is more effective than loud?

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Author: Chris

A dad with a self-evaluation complex. Also a music therapist, college enrollment administrator, and hippie-nerd.

8 thoughts on “Quiet Is the New Loud

  1. While it may be a paradox that what is soft is strong, it doesn’t come as a surprise. Music is a great way to externalize your feelings without lifting a finger… if you feel the emotion, you release it as you feel it; your body releases the energy of that emotion into the experience of hearing a corresponding sound in the outside world.

    You know how my childhood was, and so it would come as no surprise to you that I have had to find the quiet within me, to defend myself from others as well as to protect them from me. Generally it takes the form of a ringing feeling in my mind, a chord of tension that allows me to release the feeling of agitation even as it builds.
    In what situation have I found that quiet is more effective than loud?
    In 8th grade, a girl at my lunch table somehow imagined that I insulted her… of course this was out of the blue and against the girl who was different and alone. Just something for her to do, I suppose. In any case, I told her quietly that I hadn’t said anything, and that I was sorry that she was upset. For a week afterward, her and four to six of her friends followed me around the school, throwing pencils at me and spreading rumors about me molesting other girls in the choir. At one point, after a practice exam, she followed me out into the hallway, grabbed my hair, and yanked me backward. After regaining my footing for a moment, I continued to do what I had been doing the entire time; I walked away and didn’t say a word, or look at her. Even with all of her friends whooping and screaming around me I kept going, ignoring them, except for when one of the girls asked me “Why don’t you turn around and punch her?!” when I replied, “Because, it’s not worth my time,” and continued walking.
    Two weeks afterward when I was calling other 8th graders to the Truman counselors to discuss high school schedules, she was one of the girls I was chosen to call. I went to her class room and got her, and as we were walking, she stopped and called my name. When I turned around, she said, “Listen… I’m really sorry about before… it was really immature, the way we acted and you’re too nice… Are you alright? Is there anything I can do?” I just told her it was okay, that everyone makes mistakes, and we never had another altercation.

    • Cassie, I love that you’re able to identify and give description to your own personal process. That’s the stuff connections and heightened understanding are made of.

      And what a great example of quiet strength! I have no d0ubt that your patience and forgiveness had an impact on that girl’s life view. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  2. You were being too critical of this post, Chris. I loved it. 🙂

  3. Hi Chris, I came over here from SDL because I was intrigued by the title of your post in your comment. I enjoyed reading it, thank you. I typically find that the gentle and kind response works best, Lao Tzu’s proverb is my facebook status for today 🙂 One of my favorite things about water is its abandon, the way that it just flows, without worry or care, willing to leap with abandon off of high places on its way to the lower places, so it can touch and refresh those places too. To SassieCassie: thank you for sharing your story, it was beautiful.

    • Thank YOU, Jan! What a beautiful description of water. 🙂 I’ll be sharing that on Facebook later, with credit to you, of course. Thanks for reading and for taking the time to comment. Peace.

  4. Pingback: Versatile Blogger Award | … from the bungalow

  5. Pingback: FTIAT: I will not sit idly by… « The Monster in Your Closet

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