Music is mood-altering and transformative. This is not a new idea, and I think everyone has experienced it at one time or another. But it’s easy to forget or take for granted.
When I was a child, my mom would play music to get me out of bed in the morning. It was the only way to get me up without an argument because I couldn’t resist singing along. I loved my records and would play them over and over again in my bedroom on the weekends, singing loudly off-key but feeling like a star.
In Taiwan, I use public transportation to get everywhere. Without a car, the only time I really listen to music is when I work out or when I’m at work and need a pick-me-up. But I don’t think about how it affects me or why it’s so effective.
This week I was having a bad day and went to the gym. I didn’t have a lot of energy, but I cranked the music up and got started. As the music started to make me feel better, I kicked up my workout. As I kicked up my workout, the endorphins started working. With upbeat music and endorphins surging, I started working even harder.
Maybe because I was super emotional, I noticed how each song changed how I was feeling. One song made me feel like dancing and smiling; another made me angry; and another made me wish I had a guy handy. Each one also caused me to adjust my rhythm on the treadmill, not the speed but my walking rhythm.
By the end of the workout, which I had thought was going to be lackluster based on my mood in the beginning, I was dripping sweat and feeling strong. I kept the music going and made my way home. I pulled my earbuds out slowly once I got home so I could take a shower, and, within a very short period of time, my mood went back to where it was before the workout.
But I had that hour and a half of flying high! If the music hadn’t inspired me to work harder, that wouldn’t have been possible. Music can be used for so many things and for so many moods. Sometimes we respond more to the lyrics, sometimes the rhythm. But I don’t know anyone who can say that music doesn’t affect them at all.
Every point in my life is tied to music in some way. I can’t imagine not having those memories or having music to stir up the emotions I was feeling at the time or help me understand that I’m not alone in feeling a particular way.
After all, what would I work out to? What would I listen to when I clean my apartment? What would get me in the Christmas mood? What would I do without karaoke or dance clubs (Okay, I’m not a big fan of either place, but I know people who love them.)? Music is woven into the very fabric of our culture and is important in ways we probably don’t even recognize because it’s always been there.
It’s potent – and I have been fortunate enough to always have access to it whenever I wanted. I think a world without music would be a sad and colorless place to live. Can you imagine? How is music important to you and to your life?