Music is an anchor to so many of us. It is a source of healing, divination and light. Many religious and spiritual practices rely on music as a way to communicate key messages and emotions for this very reason. I think music is what connects us to spirit. It is why it serves as the first connecting source between humans and God in so many orthodox and non-orthodox religious; spiritual practices. I want to start the year off by briefly discussing music as an otherworldly experience – by presenting it as a medium which is larger than life; larger than us. Metaphysical and spiritual in its own right. Music is a safe place when life feels hard and uneasy.
Rọra is an incredibly special and personal playlist to me because it encapsulates all these attributes of music. When I started creating the playlist last year, I wanted it to showcase music as an entity which transcends language, reason and physicality. I wanted to create a playlist that really captured the main reason I love music so much. Music guides me, returns me to self and takes me away from myself when I need a break; when I am too complicated, messy, unkept and I cannot deal with her. I leave her and give myself away to music – it is my keeper. It guides me back home, it always brings me back to my base and returns me back to self when she wanders too far. That is what my rọra playlist has done for me.
2023 started off rocky and still feels rocky. The uncertainty of 2022 hovers over me like a persistent insect that will not stop buzzing. In 2023, the buzzing only intensified and the insect grew hungry for my self-esteem, confidence and mind. It is still gnawing at my flesh, desperate for me to abandon all I care about, desperate for me to turn insular and push small joys away. For a while I stopped listening to music, I stopped sleeping, my eating grew sporadic. Fluctuating sleep and food patterns are not foreign to me but music is my lifeline – I did not understand why I was pushing her away, when previously she was all I clung to when I couldn’t see colour. Music was always my colour. It was always what held me and gave me a gentle nudge to keep going, alongside my faith in God, my family and friends. However, this time was different. It was almost as if I wanted to push my most prized possession away because I did not feel worthy of her. When you start feeling unworthy of small joys, that’s when you know you have a problem. That is when you know you have to change something and force yourself to embrace small joys again. So I revisited my Rọra playlist – a playlist that I have held close, nurtured, changed and fine-tuned for months, a playlist which is so important to me because it is healing personified in the form of music. I’ve cried to rọra in bed, I’ve meditated to it and I have felt comforted by her. I got lost in the playlist over the weekend and it returned me to myself as its done so many times since I started the curation process last year. Rọra gives me continuous strength to keep going. That is what music does and what music can do if you listen to songs, melodies and the world around you intently; closely and with care.
Music is a spiritual experience and a divine art. There is rhythm, sound and melody in so many things around us. Even silence has different textures and sounds. Sometimes silence is interrupted with subtle sounds which add different dimensions to it – the sound of rain, the sound of leaves rustling when it’s windy, the sound of a fan adding texture to the silence of a warm room. These dimensions are also sound in their own right; they are fragments which can be brought together to create music. I say this to demonstrate that music is all around us, in varying forms and degrees. Sometimes it is natural like the way our hearts beat when we are anxious, nervous or excited and sometimes it is orchestrated, like when a musician goes into the studio to create a song. Music is so adaptable, malleable and serves numerous purposes. We listen to music to feel, to distract ourselves from feeling, to feel closer to a higher power and so much more. Maybe this is why so many forms of worship – so many variations of faith – cling unto music as a driving force, as the fabric which heals and holds, which encourages us to rọra; to take things easy. In many ways music is a beautiful source; a small joy which guides us and holds us through our pain and insecurity.
If you got to the end, thank you for reading. Happy new year and please don’t push small joys away.