The power of music to calm, to stir, to break through defenses is a wonder to behold.  An hour each of the last two evenings sitting in front of the audio system listening to music after Mary Ann has gone to bed has been time very well spent. 

For me, almost immediately when the music begins, it is as if all the frustrations and harsh realities of the day no longer exist.  Mind you, it has to be what is in my estimation, good music.  If it is trite, or shallow, or poorly performed, I simply have to turn it off and put in another CD.  Of course music is a matter of taste.  What grabs one person might repel another. 

I generally cannot use music as a background to doing other things.  Maybe it is the structure of my brain in particular, but I pretty much need to do one thing at a time.  I either read or listen to music, very seldom do I try to do both at the same time.  When I used to walk neighborhood streets for exercise, I could listen to a CD as I walked.  If I am out in the woods walking, I listen to what is around me.  I am not interested in blocking that out with music. 

Since we are homebound so much of the time and the television is going almost constantly, having an hour just for music is a luxury.   While I usually become engaged in what is going on in the music and immerse myself in it, there is often a journey on which it takes me.  That journey takes me through my defenses, on past the frustrations of the day, into layers of being that are closer to the core of who I am.  Not always, but often, I begin reflecting on very basic issues. 

The place to which the music often takes me is a place where I can wander around in my mind and heart, looking pretty directly into my failures and weaknesses, feeling the pain.  It is not scary or depressing, just real.  There in that core of who I am lives the Grace of God.  It is surrounded in that Grace that I am able to peal away the layers behind which I hide, even from myself.  When finally the journey has taken me through the last layer, there I find a sense of security and safety. 

Don’t misunderstand.  This is not always pleasant.  The place to which I go is not always a happy place.   Often the worst of what lives in me is exposed.  I certainly don’t always like what I see.  It is just that whatever it is does not have the last word on who and what I am.  The spark of life given to me with every breath comes from a Someone who wants me to be — whoever or whatever I am.   I have to say that more often than not, no matter what I have seen on the journey, I find it exhilirating and refreshing.  Maybe in a sense it is a way to reboot my mind and heart. 

All of us are coded differently and find renewal in different ways.  Our life preservers vary.  What is common to all who are full time Caregivers is the need for life preservers to hang on to regularly so that we don’t drown in our challenges and frustrations. 

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A Volunteer spent a portion of the morning with Mary Ann today.  I had a chance to head to a spot that often provides some quiet renewal time for reading, meditation, and watching for interesting birds.

This morning provided an odd combination of wildlilfe and human activity.  I enjoy sitting by a large reservoire to do some reading and thinking.  When I arrived in my spot, the weather was great.  I opened the windows, got out the binoculars and a devotional book.

There were lots of flying insects that surrounded and entered the van through the open windows, especially flies and mayflies.  I decided that since I was in their territory, I would not swat them and spend my limited time chasing them.  Actually, I realized that their presence was what was providing me with the aerial show by large numbers of Barn Swallows all around me. There were clusters of Killdeer that came noisily through at intervals.  I spotted some Cedar Waxwings in a nearby pine tree, along with lots of Kingbirds.

There were a few gulls on the water and flying around.  Later when I moved to the area below the dam, gulls were feeding at the overflow outlet where a loud rushing torrent was being released.

The Human entertainment included a fisherman not far from me.  There were lots of powerboats on the water.  There was one pulling a young woman who was tubing.  Then came the large, powerful speed boat with three young men on it.  It took a while to figure out what they were doing.  First of all, it became clear that the large objects across the back of the boat attached to a high bar, were loudspeakers producing ten or fifty or a hundred thousand decibels.  So much for the meditation.  It was the sort of music young people enjoy and old people can’t stand!

Then they started doing what they had come to do.  They were ski boarding — not just following behind the boat, but moving back and forth doing somersaults in the air.  It turned out to be genuinely entertaining.

As I watched all that activity, there was a rumbling off in the distance that got louder and louder.  I looked up at the dam, and there coming across were motorcycles — not just a few but what I would imagine was somewhere between two and three hundred of them in single file.  They were followed by about half as many cars of all sorts and colors and vintages.  In terms of my spirituality, I am something of a contemplative.  Not this morning!

After spending about as much time as was available to me, first next to the lake and then below the dam in a wildlife area, I headed up to drive across the dam. I had spotted what appeared to be a juvenile American Bald Eagle up above the dam, so I thought I would check it out.  I was treated to about fifteen minutes of that bird’s activity.  I have never before seen an eagle flying in place, sort of helicopter style.  This young Eagle did so more than once.

As I slowly continued across the top of the dam, I could see a dozen or so sail boats on the lake.  The day was exceptionally beautiful, and the white sails moving across the water added still more beauty to the experience.

As I left the lake and headed on a gravel road back to the highway, I was treated to a group of wild turkeys strutting around on the top of the hill by the road.

I was grateful for a good morning.  The day before had included an outing to a smaller lake with Mary Ann, but the night had been another restless one.  Yesterday, for some reason I had gotten in my mind that I could be more assertive in keeping us active, doing some self-care by exercising, maybe squeezing in some stimulating outings.  The sleepless night had revealed a certain futility in those hopes.

Yesterday, we both thought we had missed the Parkinson’s Symposium in Kansas City.  Mary Ann had indicated that she was not interested in going because it would demand our leaving here very early in the day, she dislikes large group activities, and she doesn’t get much out of the presentations.  I had thought about trying to go anyway, since I find them so valuable.  When I thought we had missed it today, I realized just how much I had wanted to go.  The good news is that the Symposium is next Saturday.  I decided to be assertive about our going and added the treat of checking with our KC friends about celebrating some birthdays at lunch after the Symposium.  At the moment, that is the plan.

All in all, it has been a weekend that has included some pleasant moments and some not so pleasant moments.  I guess that is the way life usually goes, no matter one’s circumstances. As always, tomorrow is another day.

If you want to write a comment about this or any of the posts on this blog, look to the column on the right side of this page, titled “Recent Posts,”  click on the name of a post and you will find a box at the end of that article in which you can write a comment.  Clicking on the title of the post you are reading will accomplish the same thing.  Comments are appreciated.