Lately, I’ve been spending more time with my musical instruments. I’d taken a break from them for many years after spending most of my adolescence and early adulthood immersed in hours every day of solo violin, orchestra, and folk band practice. It was such a part of my identity for so long, and has served me well in the intense ups and downs of early-adulthood and coming to understand and love myself.
I then taught myself guitar in my early 20s, and upon realizing I knew how to sing melodies and harmonies by ear, started writing songs to pick, strum, and sing. I always found the songwriting process fascinating, because from seemingly nowhere words and chords would come to my tongue and fingers, and in less than an hour, I’d create something new and complete. Songs feel like a divine gift thrown into my lap and nagging at me to take pencil to paper and turn it into reality. To this day, I have never been able to write a song based on a desire or goal. It’s as if some sort of music sprite tells me this is what I must do.
It’s only years later that I’ve begun to understand the significance of the words I wrote and the melodies I heard in my mind.
I am realizing that these songs are medicine–back then certainly, but also strangely so in the present moment. I wrote of a life I never knew would happen, along with the universal struggles and beauties that we all encounter and identify with. These humble little songs that I brought to life are a perfect medicine for me in words, meaning, sound, and vibration. It goes along with that philosophy that the body knows what it needs, the mind knows how to heal itself and find balance, and there is wisdom within ourselves that enables us to reach our highest potential.
I once performed a recital of Handel and Dvořák pieces with a beloved friend and pianist. It certainly wasn’t perfect, but we played with gusto and heart. Afterward, one man, a salty tough old fisherman who had seen shipwreck, death, destruction, and hardship in his many years, approached us with a tear-stained face. Our music had touched something deep inside him, tugged at a little corner of his heart that needed softening, and lifted his spirit to a place of beauty and vulnerability.
One of the first things I did upon coming home with an empty womb and broken heart after my baby died was pick up my violin and let the bow pull on the strings and let my fingers do the note-finding.
I let my body take control of what sounds I produced. I experienced a deep sense of release and collapsed into myself and into my old violin friend, as I wept and wailed along with the sounds my instrument released.
Music is powerful. The sound is incredible. Vibrations are moving. In all the ways. In sorrow and rejoicing and peace and anger and loneliness and dreaminess.
And, so now, I play the songs of my heart for the baby growing inside of me. This being can feel and hear the vibrations created from my guitar held snug against my belly, my violin tucked under my chin, and the vocal cords deep within my throat. I don’t know what type of journey this little being will take in this lifetime, but I trust that with these healing sounds, this baby can get exactly what is needed. And I can, too.