Turn Up The Music

When all around you are losing their calm: when the morning rush hour becomes a trial: I discovered an unusual piece of in-car therapy. A repost to tell you all about it….

If I value one quality above all others, let it be the quality of calm. Unfortunately it seems to be a quality I find elusive.

And it is not for want of trying. My life has been filled with the trappings of, well, a Trappist monk.

I used to drift off to sleep to recordings of the sea. I learnt to visualize with Shakti Gawain. I took on yoga, and steadfastly saluted the sun twice a day.

And I paid a small king’s ransom to learn Transcendental Meditation, the way it should be done.

I worked very hard at all these calming techniques. I was driven to find calm, rather like a phoenix seeking comfort in a Swedish ice-bath.

And while all these things have helped me immeasurably, whether they have made me calmer remains to be seen.

This morning I happened to glance to the back of the voluminous bus we call Transport in our family.

The children had just vacated the very back end of the bus to go to school.

Now to negotiate the way to work.

I was faced with two routes: the calm, uplifting road through the forests and fields; or the cut-throat route, the one which dices with one of our great motorways, which negotiates roadworks and forces even the meekest Skoda driver to battle with BMW drivers for lane space and self-respect.

I thought: I would rather chew my own foot off than drive the motorway route.

But there was a hitch. The forest route crossed a railway track, and that track is closed for six weeks for repairs. One must leave five minutes earlier to take this route. And one dropped the kids off five minutes late.

However, I took the view that forest was best, even with bright yellow diversion signs. I set off purposefully in my favourite direction.

With relentless fatalism, I found myself automatically taking the turning towards the dead-end. I was on a road to nowhere. And instantly I was nowhere near the land of calm.

I swung into a side road, hoping it would take me back on course: but alas, after five minutes of driving, I found myself virtually back on my own doorstep, where I had started.

The minutes had moved on, and the traffic was building up to a crescendo.

What to do? How to stay calm when there was one route, and its speed was that of a snail?

I turned on  Radio Three- our classical music channel- which was belting out Beethoven’s overture to Fidelio to anyone who would listen.

It is not calm, because Beethoven was a phoenix too. He was a tempestuous man whose restless music ranged on and on, through conflict after conflict, searching for resolution.

But my mood was thunderous, and I felt very much like bawling at someone. I was in an extreme place where one visualises damaging other people’s bumpers. Instead, I took Fidelio and turned it up very loud indeed.

I began to feel better instantly. Take that, I silently admonished other drivers, who could not have known what I was thinking with that beatific smile on my face. Take that, and that.  En garde.

I arrived at school very happy indeed, and on time.

And so a word to those phoenixes out there, those whose tempestuous lives and chaotic approaches render them slap-dash and fiery.

When one is hemmed in, when there is nowhere to turn, it may just be that calm, cerebral approaches are not quite the thing; it is possible meditation will just spawn rumination on one’s sorry plight.

It could conceivably transpire that what one needs, at a time like that, a total and utter roustabout to rant and ramble along with you.

Just a thought.

Picture source here


27 thoughts on “Turn Up The Music

    1. You are quite right 🙂 The only hitch is that when one is really angry all thought processes seem to jump out of the window! I teach children with autism and identify deeply with the “anger-freeze” they seem to experience. When I’m angry I can’t think, much less contemplate. Later, when I have calmed down, then I can meditate within.

      1. Having a little giggle at the prospect of Mrs Shrewsday engaging in a Dionysian bacchanal in the Shrewsday people mover through the backroads of rural England!

  1. Hi Kate. Well, the Introitus of Mozart’s wonderful Requiem mass did it for me the other day… I turned that up and joined in with the sopranos! Fidelio is marvellous too.
    But I’ve always used music to enhance or improve mood, or even to quell grief. I’m not the “whale song ” type, except when I record it myself! 🙂

  2. How I empathise! Yes, recordings of waves on pebble beaches used to work for me at the end of a busy teaching day and to shut our inner city noise. TM also worked for a bit until I inadvertantly let slip my special word, only to find it was special for a lot of my friends too. But when you’re trapped on a stressful journey, the radio is a real godsend. Radio 4 is great, but if I find myself shouting at that, then it’s Radio 3, and Classic FM or Radio 2 in extremis. And of course, the time (and one’s awareness and memory of the journey itself) flits by effortlessly.

    But if I’m not in a car, then the piano does it for me. Or some decent reading matter.

    1. The Special Word is the same for a lot of others? I’ve kept mine safe for more than a decade! 😀 Good, also, to find someone who shouts at Radio 4. Anyone from Cameron to Aldridge (been shouting at the scriptwriters of the Archers recently…it’s not Eastenders!)

  3. I love this post. Of course, I love Beethoven.
    Though the latest CD in my car has been ‘Night on a Bare Mountain’ – which, strangely, has met with young granddaughter’s unqualified approval.
    I have just composed a ‘Knights’ theme, with nothing but brass and woodwinds. It is built upon ‘A-hunting we will go.’ It works. I like it.

    1. Love a good bit of Mussorgsky, Col. And so, it seems, do the kids! Your grandaughter has taste!
      The project sounds interesting. Is there a recording on your site?

      1. I am never quite sure whether I am getting the Mussorgsky ‘Bald’ version or the Rimski Korsakoff ‘Bare’ adaptation.
        Not on a player yet. I hope to put some of the themes onto MyMusicStream soon.
        btw – I lied. It also has clip-clopping percussion in four-time against the double-triplets of the theme.

  4. I am trained as a classical pianist (not professionally, of course) and I adore Beethoven. Classical music transports me somewhere else, and calms me. But Classic Rock is my choice when I want to chew my nails! I just don’t look like someone who sings along with Freddie Mercury, do I? Or a little Steppenwolf! I’m still going to keep up my yoga classes, but I need music for my balance, and the supply is delightfully endless! Debra

  5. Missed this yesterday as my mail server was down. A good shout never did anyone any harm. I don’t do yoga, but I do occasionally shout 😉

  6. I am like you. No amount of yogic relaxation will stop my fidgeting. Especially when I am in a bad mood. The blaring music in my car on the drive back really does it for me. Sometimes the same music on a loop, for days on end 😉

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