October 20, 2005

Weird Experiences: The Roof Peels Away

I have up until now been pretty circumspect about the weirder things I have experienced in my life. Most of them are pretty unbelievable, even, I admit, to me, should someone else have told me that they experienced them instead of me experiencing them myself. It helps me to remind myself that I am not a drug user and have never tried any number of drugs that were common recreational vehicles when I was younger, so I can safely say these experiences aren't flashbacks.

But still, I haven't wanted to risk trotting out these weird things and have people think that I am either lying or have had some kind of episode, so I've only shared a few of them with friends and family, and rarely even then.

But now, for some reason explicable only to some part of me that I sincerely hopes knows what it is doing, I feel that it is now okay to share some of these experiences. The somewhat less weird ones, anyway.

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October 19, 2005

A Different Kind of Music in My Head

About two months ago, I found myself wishing to hear a different kind of music. I didn't know what I meant by that, except that I didn't want to hear anything that is currently being composed or that has ever been composed, at least in the past 2,000 years. My musical tastes have always been extremely broad and extremely eclectic, so it isn't like I was wishing for something easily achieved.

Only recently did I realize that it has been a while since I've heard the music in my head, and that that music is perhaps what I am longing to hear, only now I want to hear it with my ears instead of just inside my head as before. Please allow me to explain. Maybe you've had similar experiences, or can shed some light on what I am about to describe. I have no training in music, so I know I am not using the right terminology, so those of you who do, please bear with me as I try to discuss this.

From when I was a very young child (earlier than 2) to sometime around the age of 7 or 8, I used to walk around hearing full symphonies in my head. This wasn't something my ears were hearing, but instead was something that I was hearing inside, similar to remembering something one has heard, but like it is being heard right now. One thing about these symphonies is that I always knew exactly what was going to be "playing" next. Another is that they were complex and complete and lasted a long time, with full movements and everything.

Later, as I grew older, I would find that I could listen to "real" symphonies (Mozart and Tchaikovsky especially, but others too) and know the same thing—I would know what was coming next (what instruments were going to play, which sounds were coming, which lyrical lines of music), so I could hum along, as it were. I always assumed that this was because it was obvious what was coming next, but now I am not so sure.

This internal music was something I enjoyed but never questioned. I don't know why or exactly when this went away, but it did. It never went away completely, however, though the music branched out into other kinds of music. By "other kinds of music," I don't mean rock and roll or country or jazz or the like; I mean a kind of music that is different from anything I am familiar with. Since I listen to a large range of music types, this is saying something. But it is hard to describe that music. I don't usually hear it if I am "listening" for it, but instead I hear it if I am concentrating on something else, like driving (especially if driving long distances alone at night).

If I were to explain it, I would say that in some ways this other kind of music sounds both very familiar and yet entirely new every time I hear it. It never seems to repeat itself, but there is a comfortableness and a sense of, "Oh yes, that's right" to it when I notice that I am hearing the music. The music is partially composed of instruments I know and partially of sounds arising from no source that I am familiar with. It has a very wholesome, organic, right feeling to it.

Often, when I listen, I can kind of hum along inside my head in a way that is both me contributing to the music and also, sometimes, directing it to go in new directions. Likewise, with the symphonies, when I do hear them (which is very rarely now), I can "compose" the music on the fly by doing something with my brain—I really don't know what—and having the music go in a direction that I want it to go: More horns, or more strings, or whatever.

In any case, however, if I focus too strongly on the music, it recedes into the background or goes entirely away. The fact that I cannot fully focus on it is probably why I have always both taken it for granted and never really thought about it my entire life.

It occurred to me just today that perhaps either other people have had the same experiences, or perhaps they might have some clues as to what this phenomenon is. It is tempting to think that I might have been some kind of musical genius in another life, but honestly, I have never had any feeling that I was such. It is also tempting to think that somehow I am listening to some wavelength of life energy which is carried by music, or which sustains music, or both, or that there is some kind of spiritual meaning to it. But again, I don't know. It is just there. The thing is, I haven't heard it as much lately (though I also haven't been driving much lately), and I think that somehow listenting to that music was sustaining me in a way that I can't articulate.

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