There was this song playing yesterday when we were in the car. It’s one of those that always ends too soon.. the minor chords make me melt just in themselves, the lyrics ring harshly the truth of a painful love. I don’t know music in a technical sense, but I could describe this part in the song where it shifts from a patient and pensive sadness, to a more raw and bold sadness that’s dying to speak itself out of existence. It’s this part that makes me double over with feeling.. you can hear the singer wincing through his words, expelling breath just to get out the next word of truth to himself.
It’s somewhere around this point in the song that I said, ‘man, there are those parts in songs, ya know? where you feel it so much and so deep that you need more.. yet it’s so good that I couldn’t ask it to deliver any more to my audible satisfaction. It’s like I want more of it, beyond music. I wish it could take me into its world so I could touch its sinking sadness the way I hear its sadness. And so I could see it writhing the way I hear it writhing. I’m thinking that the layers of this music have just got to be able to take me deeper than a song..
But then, maybe that’s the beauty and real power of music- it creates a desire to expand sensation beyond the ears.. it leads to a place of experience beyond what the song delivers literally- chords and words. It’s taken one medium of expression, and I- one listener at the least- am receiving that expression outside the medium in which it was dealt. I say that I ‘hear the singer wincing;’ I’m hearing something that’s visual. There exists this translation of the senses where they begin to melt into each other, it deepens the process of feeling. And I do truly feel it, but I struggle to find words that can describe the feeling I get when his hands trickle down the guitar strings and the chords imply on his behalf, 'between you and me, you have ceased to love, but I never will.'
I’ve never known heartbreak like that firsthand, but I’m trying to describe the sensation in my chest when I imagine his. It’s similar to the feeling immediately after you hear something tragic or devastating.. that kind of somber shock. It’s something to me like a quieted scream, a radiating sense of reality. Not as blatant as a vibration, but more active than an emotion. It’s a rush of energy, that somehow is anything but energizing.. it’s the most draining of energies. Maybe this sensation is actually the felt translation from emotion to physical experience. It typically forces me to draw a deeper breath, or else it would be too easy to choke on the quiet pain.
I’m realizing this is starting to sound awful; but although I may not be successfully describing it, the experience isn’t actually awful or ugly, not in the slightest. Though tinged with pain and heartache, this sensation brings the overwhelming understanding that this, this is a moment of real life. This means, if nothing else, that I have participated in life with another. That I have been present, I must have given of myself enough to create a void that was then filled with some part of another being.. and although it’s now left an emptiness that hurts and hurts and hurts- it means I participated. I gave some and I received some, and that means I have, as John Berger would say, ‘increased my capacity to be human.’ This is not a given, it’s not as easy to do as it is basic to describe, and it’s not always joyful. This give and take, it doesn’t always feel effervescent and exploding with gratitude for the reality of existence. Quite often, it feels like shit. But what I mean to say is that the effervescence and gratitude are not all that life should aim for. Maybe we shouldn’t strive just for the good and sparkling feelings of joy, but also to find satisfaction in the experience of pain, for these affirm both sides of existence.
So above it all, above the temporality of shock, and beyond the sting of the start of heartbreak, it is a sensation that confirms- you have been present, you have let part of the outside in, and you have left a part of yourself on the table for another. And I do think, that in itself is a vast and stunning accomplishment.