I was driving in San Jose today, on a In-N-Out run, and a classic rock station was on. The first song that come on was Take the Long Way Home by Supertramp. That song was pure joy from my childhood. Everyone in my family loved that song, and whenever it came on, no matter what was going on, it would get turned up and everyone would be singing, happy, together. It had been awhile since I’d heard that song, and being as tuned in as I am these days, I felt the shift in every cell of my body. It really was pure joy and I made a mental note to add it to either my gratitude or compassion playlist, maybe both. A string of other awesome songs followed, Asia Heat of the Moment, Dooby Brothers, Foreigner, all songs I loved from my early childhood that my parents loved too.
Then, Def Leopard Hysteria came on, another one of my absolute favorites. Hysteria was one of the first two albums I got with my own money (Slippery When Wet was the other, can’t remember which was first because they were both right around the same time)…I was in 5th grade and I had a Walkman (not Sony, a knockoff) and I listened to both Def Leppard and Bon Jovi to death that year… absolutely LOVED those albums. But what was interesting was that the second Hysteria came on, I felt myself drop into an entirely different, lower, spiritual place. This is a more subtle feeling than an emotion, because believe me I was psyched to have Hysteria come on. But underneath that happiness of hearing the song that I loved, I felt something else, something that I wouldn’t have noticed if I weren’t so tuned in, and I was able to stay out of my head and hang out in my heart to observe what exactly it was/ what it brought up.
The thing about it is, once we get our mind to quiet down, we can then watch for subtler movements and allow things to come up to our consciousness that wouldn’t normally have space to come up, because there would be so much noise.
So anyway, in that moment driving on CA 17, I allowed myself to just watch and listen deeply and quietly, and so much stuff came up. Stuff I had totally forgotten about.
When I was in 5th grade, let’s just say “my body was changing” and leave it at that. I had my brother, 13 months older than me in 6th grade, who was generally ruthless when it came to shaming, belittling, humiliating and attacking me (I’ve forgiven him, he was doing his best on his own stuff), and we were alone a lot in those years — no babysitters, divorced (and remarried) parents who all worked full time. I didn’t feel respected or appreciated by my parents or brother, and I didn’t have the awareness or skills to do anything to help my cause. Personally, I was deeply confused, lost and ashamed, not feeling good enough or worthy of love and spent as much time as possible listening to the Hysteria tape out on the farm, often running between the trees to “Animal”, crying to “Love Bites” and “Hysteria”, rocking out to “Pour Some Sugar” and “Armaggedon It” etc. Like most kids, music was often my refuge to try and feel better, and the music reminded me of that part of my struggle that still hadn’t completely healed.
I use the analogy that if you drove your car through mud, allowed it to dry instead of cleaning it off, and then repeatedly drove through mud again and again, each time allowing it to dry, you’d have layers upon layers of muck that you would need to keep working at cleaning off in order to restore the car’s natural shine. We are just like that, with layers of “gunk” blocking our shine… and our shine is really our unconditional love of, and appreciation for, all of life. The “gunk” is our past traumas and things that we believe to be true that aren’t true — this blocks us from letting life really FLOW.
This practice of listening to music that was meaningful from our childhood is like getting us directly to layers of our gunk: the space that often holds our traumas/unhealed wounds. It is these traumas that ultimately are holding us back in our present life (along with things that we believe to be true that are not true), so letting these traumas come up, fully facing and moving through the pain, and allowing forgiveness and love to take the place of the wound is an incredibly powerful opportunity… to help us be the best, most shiniest versions of ourselves possible.