Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Crowding Out the Loneliness

A couple of weeks ago I saw punk rock legend Henry Rollins speak at the National Museum of Natural History. Here is where I really want to put some joke about of course it was at the Natural History Museum, because there are dinosaurs there and Henry is so old, or how a whole Hall full of minerals is so rock n'roll. Get it, minerals, rocks, rock n'roll. But if I have to explain the joke, well then, um, *cough* awkward silence. 

Thankfully, I didn't go to a museum after hours to audition for a stand up comedy gig. Now,  Henry Rollins is one of those types who I don't agree with %100 of everything he says, but man, can he ever talk about music.  He is an internationally known musician, spoken word artist, photographer, activist, columnist, radio and television host (he is the one on the History Channel in the black t-shirt), but here in DC, where he grew up, he is still a hometown kid. His public persona can often times come off as intense or aggressive, or many people just always equate punk rock with rowdiness, but as he talked with us folk, he was funny and engaging, and there were a couple of moments, when he was talking about his younger years in DC that you could hear the slightest bit of a lump in this throat.  I loved how he talked about music as community and a saving grace and an element of change.  But there is something else that he said that has stayed in my head all these days later. He recalled when he was young, he would play records up in his room to crowd out the loneliness. 

My life is pretty good, in the midst of all the everythings in the world, I have very, very little to complain about. I have a job that allows me to support myself, I have food in my cupboards, my lungs, legs, eyes and ears all work, every single day.  I live in an amazing area that provides so many opportunities. I have a family that unconditionally supports and loves me even though often times they have no idea what I'm talking about. I have friends who encourage and inspire me to be a better person, and let me rattle on about pie and tambourines way past what is socially acceptable. But every now and then, loneliness pushes its way onto my calendar.  Such a rude and inconvenient house guest. 

So when Mr. Rollins mentioned how music crowds out the loneliness, I totally wanted to jump up in the sold out auditorium and shout AMEN.  Not all loneliness can be solved by standing in a crowded room. Often times, in lonely times, what is needed is connection; to know that you aren't the only weirdo kid or that the unknowns of life don't have to be so scary, and that there is purpose in both the happiness and the pain in life.  Connection is finding your own personal story within the stories of others, and knowing that they all matter. We all matter.  And in music, I have found all that throughout the years, I still find all that. 

So on those days where loneliness comes calling, I know I can turn up the volume, and be like, "nope, can't you hear loneliness, I can't hear you. Go away." Plan B on those same type of days: call a friend to talk me out of watching that Lifetime made for tv movie. Friends, don't let friends walk down that dark road. 

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