My 2018 Year-End Music Discovery
December 31, 2018

Winter you cannot learn

Yesterday we got overwhelmed by snow. It was a real winter snow-storm, this time called the Alberta Clipper. All the media was full of warnings about the upcomming calamity and the best solution was supposedly to stay inside. To stay put! Not to move!
For me, the weather like this is absolutely fantastic. I love it. Understandably a winter storm could be dangerous, especially out there in the wilderness. But in the city?
When the weather is like this, I just cannot resist and have to go out. The power of nature, the strong wind, biting cold and drifting snow feel like purifying forces. They blow away, freeze, or bury under a white cover everything bad. Everywhere is glittering just clean, soft, white snow.
So when yesterday my children arrived from the school in the afternoon, right in the middle of the roaring snow storm, there was nothing better for us to do just to dress well and go out. First we cleaned the driveway – and then many times more. Snow had been falling unbelievably fast and in about six hours we got almost 40 centimetres.
Inbetween shoveling the driveway, we built a couple comfortable “seats” in the snow, made a tall fortress, uncoverd an ice-rink in the place of a former dirty puddle, practiced jumping to the snow … we just had a blast.
What a difference this is for my wife. She is a true “tropical flower”. Born and raised in a hot Latin-American country, she had spent her formative years on some of the most bautiful beaches one can imagine. Snow, on the other hand, she knew only from pictures and Christmas movies.
In spite of the fact, that my wife has been living in Canada for almost two decades, the beauty of winter has never grown on her. Yes, she likes how wintery country looks – when looking from behind a well insulated window. But going outside and have fun? Maybe, for some 20-30 minutes, until the freezing temperature starts biting her cheeks. Then all the enjoyment is over and very fast comes a stress, or a bad mood.
I have encountered similar feelings with many more people from tropical countries, although I don’t want this to sound like a generalization. Still, there is no way for some our family members to come for a visit in winter. Their bodies and their mental equipment are just not ready for the cold weather. Especially if they don’t have to live in a cold climate and are used to the tropical warmth.
So when I was enjoying yesterday the winter storm bundled in my warm Himalayan parka, an idea came to me – an analogy comparing the ability to enjoy the cold weather, to having fun with making music. Let me explain.
Throughout the history and also in our individual lives, we humans are very adaptable. There are people living in the coldest populated place in the world, the Oymyakon village of about 700 citizens in Siberia, where the lowest recorded temperature was -71.2 Celsius degrees. And they live in all other possible and impossible places. Throughout generations they adapt to those particular climate conditions and find a way how to like and appreciate them.
And here comes my ‘analogy’. A human has to be continually exposed to a certain climate to be able to appreciate it and to take advantage of what it offers. Similarly a human has to be continually exposed to music to appreciate it. But to be able also to take a full advantage of what music can offer, one has to acquire an ability to make it – to play it. All of these take time and require an active participation.
Reading or watching movies can help you prepare for an extreme weather and thus adjust to a particular climate. But it takes much more time and requires to be physically present, to learn how to appreciate and even enjoy something like a snow storm.
Listening music is great, especially if it is through a conscious focus and not only by using it as a background noise. But a ‘physical presence’ – or in other words an active music making is, where a positive relationship can be built not only with music itself, but also with other participants, a community and not the least – with a musician himself or herself. That is when many additional benefits can be enjoyed, be it a social, personal, physical or mental wellbeing.
For some, even twenty years of continual exposure may not be enough to fully acquire a capacity and capability to appreciate a substantially different weather and climate. Childhood experiences have huge impact on the rest of our lives. Therefore a mindful approach is the best way to go.
With music this may be similar – but it shouldn’t. Because music doesn’t require travel – it can be always and anywhere with you. Music also doesn’t have to expose you to hardship like a frost and wind, through which you could learn how to love it. Music can and should always be on the beneficial or positive side. Even when it is mirroring negativity, it still can mean a positive outcome.
It is great if one learns how to make music in the childhood. But it is definitely not necessary and you can start anytime and at any stage of your life. And again – a mindful, non-judgemental approach helps a lot.
Let music become a part of your life – like a wather, like a climate. But instead of pasively adjusting to a daily weather forecast, become the forecaster yourself in your music making. If the life doesn’t treat you well in a particular day, express it through music and learn how to find relief in organized music tones. In better moments, you can celebrate your life, your friendships, your successes through music as well. With musical tones you can look how to improve your health, your social life, and your quality of life in general. Learn how to make music and music will make it for you!

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