Music: A Connection to Ourselves
May 27, 2022
Ananya Rajkumar (she/her/hers), Low Entropy Volunteer Writer
I’ve always thought that our lives are simply a collection of memories. Whether these memories are good or bad, they help shape our identities, adding unique pieces into the mosaic of who we are. Although there are many things that connect the points in our lives and different versions of ourselves, I would argue that music is one of the most powerful.
Music has this magical ability to connect you to something bigger and provide a sense of belonging. I learnt Indian classical singing, also known as Carnatic music, growing up. I can reminisce about my old teacher, an older Tamil lady who had a mixture of red and gray streaks in her black hair. She had immigrated to Canada to live with her son, and though she could have considered retirement at her age, she still taught lessons. In the spare bedroom of her house, a seven-year-old me would sit on the fraying carpets in a criss-cross position that made my feet numb and sing songs. The feeling I would get when singing was indescribable. I felt more connected to my language, my culture, my people and my religion. Many years later, when I was 16, still sitting on those same carpets, that feeling of connectivity and belonging never wavered. Even now, as a 20-year-old, every time I hear those familiar melodies, I am transported back to that room, sitting on that carpet. And when all the emotions rush back, they illuminate the parts of myself I may have forgotten were still there.
Although this experience is unique to myself, music has always had this uncanny ability to connect people in other ways, like bonding generations together. Large parts of our identity are tied to the generation we grew up in, and it’s truly wondrous that music can be the thread of similar experiences that binds us with millions of others. For example, people who grew up in the sixties had the Beatles, the seventies was the age of classic rock and everytime an eighties pop song comes on the radio, my parents and their friends will sing it at the top of their lungs. In my opinion, the way simply loving and listening to music is able to create these bonds is very special and important. This is because most of us tend to view ourselves in entirely individualistic ways, failing to realize that parts of who we are involve our connections to our loved ones, community and respective cultures.
On another note, over the course of our lives we develop into many different versions of ourselves, some older, some wiser, and some with entirely different personalities. Imagine driving in the car, laying in bed, walking down the street or being in a crowded bar when a certain song comes on. Suddenly you’re no longer there. Instead, in between one blink and the next, you find yourself transported to another time. Maybe a younger version of yourself, one who wore low-rise jeans, bell bottoms or spandex. And it’s not only the memories and nostalgia of your past self that assaults you, but somehow you experience the same feelings you had when you listened to that song back then. It’s almost like time travel, as if you were transported into the body of a past you. I had mentioned how music allows us to be a part of something bigger, but music also connects us to our past selves, bridging together (pun intended) the different points of our lives. Certain songs preserve the people we once were, and in some ways still are, between each lyric.
In the present, music surrounds my everyday life in the form of my ever-growing Spotify playlists. I will listen to anything from lo-fi to punk, and I honestly believe I can’t do anything without listening to some form of music. It’s incredible to think that the songs I listen to now will be intertwined with the person I am today in university. Maybe some years in the future, when I hear those songs again, I’ll be transported back to this moment and feel like my younger self. However, though I am excited for the future, I am going to make sure to take the time to enjoy the music in my present life.
I would like to leave you with this. After reading this article, take some time to go through your old music. Whether it’s past Spotify playlists, iPods, CDs or vinyl, take some time to self-reflect and appreciate the person you were when you were listening to them. Also, take a moment to listen to some of your current favorites and appreciate the person you are today, as well as the person you eventually will become.
My name is Ananya Rajkumar, I am a third-year life science student at McMaster University. Some of my hobbies include reading, drinking overpriced coffee and creating anything from works of writing to new recipes. I am passionate about advocating for mental health and hopefully by sharing my journey and thoughts through blog writing, I can help create a change.
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