Music — an unbearable pleasure?

I’ve fallen out of love with music.  I used to be very much in love with it. I was reminded of this when reading what Mike from the blog meatmeatmeatmeat was “Currently Spinning.”  He took a picture of the album Give Me My Flowers While I Can Still Smell Them by Blu & Exile on the turntable with a shot of what I’m assuming is his snowy backyard in the background.  It brought to mind the days when I listened to records and the ritual involved in playing them:  taking the record out of the sleeve while being careful not to scratch or smudge it; using a brush to remove dust or fingerprints; holding it with my palms and carefully placing it on the turntable.  I would very gingerly take the needle and place it on the record.  I still remember the smell of vinyl and reading the album cover while lying next to the speaker. Nice memories.

Mike wrote a very good review of the album and made a good case for checking it out, but I resisted doing so.  I didn’t want to listen to new music and it had nothing to do with the genre.  Even if it was by an artist I knew and adored, I wouldn’t have listened to it. It’s odd because music used to be such a big part of my life.   I studied music, learned to play three instruments, and I was a member of the choir in high school.  I prided myself on having very broad musical tastes from The Police to Joni Mitchell to Nat King Cole and John Coltrane.  I was consumed by and obsessed with finding new music and devouring it. Now I don’t want to consume or be obsessed with or devour music — new music, old music, any music.

Why have I fallen out of love? Is it just because I’m getting older?  Is it just a phase?  Is it part of being highly sensitive?

One of the characteristics of highly sensitive people is that we’re deeply affected by art and music.  I think we’re deeply affected by everything.  I say I’m affected by stimulation itself.  Music isn’t something I find comfort in anymore.  It’s just more stimulation and if I can avoid stimulation — even if it’s lovely to hear — I will.  I don’t just listen passively to music.  I listen to the melody and the lyrics; I wonder about the artist — who are they? where do they come from?– and the title of the songs.  If I’m looking at the cover of the album, I wonder about the art or photography.  I read liner notes.  My curiosity overwhelms me.  I could just listen passively, but why?

HSP expert Elaine Aron perfectly described how I feel about music.  HSPs have a lot of unbearable negative emotions we have to endure, but what about the unbearable pleasures?

These happen, too.  After such an experience, I had a dream of honey pouring out of something and I had only a small container to catch it in, so that it was overflowing everywhere.  I knew it referred to an unbearable sweet kindness directed towards me by someone I respected.  Other examples for me are the perfectness of a moment or scene while travelling or out in nature, or during a truly fantastic performance of music or dance, or while having a fresh realization of how much I love my husband or son.

Listening to music now is exactly like having honey pouring out of something and I only have a small container to catch it in or no container at all.  Elaine Aron again:

I often feel frustrated at such moments, that I am unable to feel them enough.  Maybe I’m too distracted by the stimulation of the details of the situation or it’s too brief or I’m too defended against it for some reason, but often it seems as though my nervous system is simply not big enough for the goodness it is taking in.

I feel very defended against music for some reason.  There are times when listening to some jazz would be the perfect medicine, therapy, or friend but, I found something even more comforting: silence. Silence has pushed out my old lover Music.

But not completely. The last song I listened to repeatedly, obsessively is the fun, peppy “This Must Be The Place” by the Talking Heads.  The lyric “Home, is where I want to be…” is my motto and I sing it whenever someone suggests I get out more.

I did check out a track from Give Me My Flowers While I Can Still Smell Them by Blu & Exile called “A Letter” and I liked it a lot.  But I only listened to it once.  I can’t handle liking it any more. (Just kidding.)

Has your relationship with music changed?

MM

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