Music and coping

I've been engaging in a bit of reconsideration of some big things lately. I'm not exactly sure why, but whatever the reason I'm glad it's happening. I figure that reassessing thoughts and feelings that you've held for a long time can be a pretty healthy process. We can all use a little bit of spring-cleaning now and then.

One of the things I've found myself reconsidering is the emotional role that music has played in my life. You could sift through the articles I've written here and find breathless statements about how important music has been to me in so many ways. It has partly defined my friendship circle and the vast majority of my free time at the very least. It's likely had a physiological impact, shifting the way my brain works. It's probably even impacted on the the kind of things I enjoy doing even when I'm not playing. I might not have started this website without having had the sort of creative foundation that music provided to me.

Music has always been there for me, regardless of whether I was playing or listening. I have depended on it for so much for as long as I can remember. When I was growing up, if I was emotional - sad, excited, nervous or stressed - I'd pick up an instrument or put on my headphones and I'd balance out. I use music like a someone with a headache uses paracetamol, the way an alcoholic uses the drink. I've realised now that this has probably stunted me in some ways.

So often I felt horrible and confused and music made everything alright. As a result, I felt I didn't need to deal with actual issues, because I knew when those feelings surfaced again I had a way out. It was avoidance and to the extent that I used it like this it was unhealthy. If you look behind my guitar cases or through my CD shelf you could probably find the places I hid those all that stuff.

Just so you know, I'm still doing this. I will always have to do this, but hopefully not always to that extent. I can't separate myself from music or even this way of relating to it. My connection to this art form is inextricable, instinctive and physiological. But it seems to me now that it might have become have been a pretty unhealthy dependency at some point. For everything that this art has given me, which is more than I can begin to imagine, I'm a slightly less developed person in some ways because of it all, too. That's a tough idea to process.