Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Stand before Doom

Music has Charms to sooth a savage Breast,
To soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.
I've read, that things inanimate have moved,
and, as with living souls, have been informed,
by magic numbers and persuasive sound.
What then am I? Am I more senseless grown
than trees, or flint? O force of constant woe!
'Tis not in harmony to calm my griefs.
Anselmo sleeps, and is at peace; last night
the silent tomb received the good old king;
he and his sorrows now are safely lodged
within its cold, but hospitable bosom.
Why am not I at Peace?
~William Congreve, from The Mourning Bride~

Art is therapeutic. Music does sooth a savage breast, beast or stressed mind on overdrive. Often, I plug into the iPod and am immersed in an atmosphere of rhythm, poetry, energy and creativity. And when I sing along, I sound damn good. Just kidding. But it feels great! Music lifts me up and takes me to place of peace. I am in harmony with the world. I can imagine and create again.

Several years ago, in the midst of a deep depression and anguish, Kevin and I went to a show to hear a band called Grey. Our son, Ty, was the drummer. Other members were Suzanne, AJ and a new member—women with long dreadlocks, tattoos, piercings and visceral energy. They were intimidating as a group, yet very modest, gentle and uniquely creative.

We entered the dark venue feeling like virgins at a weekend sacrifice. Ty scooped us up and escorted us backstage where we visited with the girls and another band, Om. I admire them. They dare to be different, to be themselves, to make their music and art exactly in their own way.

When it was time for Grey to play, one of their friends grabbed me by the hand and took me to the front of the stage. “She’s the mother of the drummer!” she declared. Respectfully, the crowd made a spot for me directly in front of the meat locker sized speaker. Dark, ominous, scowling young men and women smiled and greeted me, welcoming me into the pit. Closer, come closer they beckoned.
So I did.

Ty begins. Then, the bass guitar followed suit. A gust of air shot from the speaker, taking my breath away. The tempo increased slowly, steady, relentlessly. Ty played two bass drums and pounded the sh*t out of them and the rest of his kit. I could feel the concussion in my breast bone. The sound rocked me back a step. Instead of retreat, I leaned into the music. It made me dizzy. It made me feel alive at a time when I was lost.  The doom metal took my anger and grief and made it something tangible. Something I could stand up to. It gave me its power. The lead singer opened her mouth and growled—ancient, primal screams that took me into raw emotion. As my eyes flooded with tears, I slipped away from the heavy metal mass. I was exhausted. And in some magical way, I was healed. Not completely cured, but inspired, softened, soothed.

I began to paint again. Listening to Grey, Om, Janis Joplin, Josh Groban, Pink, Annie Lennox, Cake, Death Cab for Cutie...
You could say my taste in music is eclectic. And it is therapeutic.

This is the painting that emerged. It’s titled “Precarious Position”.
It’s a story about my Family.

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