My wife gave birth to our first child a few weeks ago. To say this has had a limiting effect on my musical listening ability would be a gross understatement - akin to saying the TSA has a limiting effect on the enjoyment of air travel. Life with a newborn is surreal. Sleep is a treasure to be found whenever and wherever one can grab it. Spit-up, snot, buckets of urine and trails of poo are no longer disgusting things to never be discussed and only done in private but a normal matter of the day to day life, so commonplace as to be of no more significance than breathing or eating. You gain supersonic hearing that can hear the slightest sniffle or coo coming from three rooms over and every sound is met with equal dread knowing that high-pitched squealing will surely be coming soon.
My old life is gone - but a whiff of a memory. What has taken its place is an exhausting, unrelenting blur of nights and days that have no end, are filled with dread, stress, fear and the purest joy one can find anywhere. Music - once a center point of my life now sits listlessly in the corner like those cassette tapes of yesteryear collecting dust.
I suppose I could find time for listening to music, I like the idea of sitting with my baby girl, holding her in my arms while my favorite records play in the background, but I find it easier just to pop in a DVD or a streaming television show from Netflix and let the distractions push the night away.
The other day I went to the grocery store to pick up some chicken or something-or-other for supper - something I would have found annoying, a chore to do but a month ago but now I find to be a simple pleasure that gets me away from the madness for just a few moments. Normally before I go anywhere, even just down the road, I grab a CD or my iPod so that I might control what I listen to, but this time I was in a rush and simply turned on the radio. We have one local station that plays some pretty good music and I was treated to the nostalgia filled "Right Here Right Now" by Jesus Jones which was followed by Eddie Vedder's "Hard Sun." It was that last one that got me.
Its a great song, no doubt, but something about hearing it in that moment really nailed me. I pulled in the parking lot and just sat there listening with the volume up. I can't say exactly why it moved me just then, but it did. I'm sure it was a mix of exhaustion and the complete lack of "me time" welling up in the pure beauty of a great song. Music is magic, and once in awhile it can be transportive. For that few minutes, sitting in the grocery store parking lot I could let the stress, the fears, the sleepless nights slip away and be taken to that high mountain of great wonder we sometimes call Art.
Then I got my chicken and drove home to my beautiful baby girl. It was nice to get away for just a moment, to take a break from the whirlwinds that come with an infant, but then I came back, picked her up and felt her warmth. There aint nothing better than that.