Put together a musical playlist of songs that describe your life, including what you hope your future entails.
Not as easy as it sounds. I sat down and compiled a list of over twenty songs that trigger memories of different “firsts” in my life: first album I bought, first kiss, first slow dance, and so on. But I wanted to narrow it down to songs that represent turning points in my life. They may not have been my favorites at the time, but they are special for different reasons.
“1970 Something” puts me in a nostalgic mood that takes me back to childhood. He sings about toys and events I remember – everything from Stretch Armstrong to a Rubik’s Cube, from the death of Elvis Presley to the day the Challenger exploded. It’s a fun, easy summary of the first twenty years of my life.
“How Can I Help You Say Good-Bye?” makes me think about the first major turning point in my life: My mother’s death. Mom passed away just a few weeks after I turned twenty-one. She didn’t go easily; it was a long, drawn-out struggle with breast cancer that turned a smart and vibrant woman into something I wish I could forget. With her gone, I had no choice but to be a grown-up.
When I said good-bye to Mom, I said good-bye to childhood. From that moment forward, I had no safety net, no home base to return to when things went bad in my life. That was the day I became an adult.
Then there’s “This Song Remembers When”. I was twenty-six the first time I fell in love. Not infatuation, not a crush, but love. The first time I actually gave my love away without fear, without reservation. He was a good man; we didn’t end with anger or bitterness. We were both smart enough to accept that the relationship had simply run its course.
The song is about hearing music and being transported back to a time in life when love was fresh and new and exciting. When I hear it, I can’t help but wonder where he is and if he ever thinks about me. It’s not about wanting to go back to him or to that point in life. To me it’s about music helping me remember someone fondly while still being content in the present.
This is a very nice segway to the next song on my list.
“That Was a River” is the perfect soundtrack to the story of meeting my husband. We had both been in love before and had issues with trust. But like the song says, that was a river, this is the ocean. Basically, yes, I loved someone else before you, but that wasn’t as strong as what I’m feeling now.
“Just Another Day in Paradise“ is about day-to-day happenings of married life rather than the roses and love songs of early romance. It covers the seventeen years I’ve been with The Big Guy – date nights have become delivery pizza, hand-holding turned into laughing at the funny faces he makes sometimes; cozy nights in our big bed are often interrupted by children with nightmares.
Then came the June night when a maple tree landed on the van I was driving. In the hours that I lay strapped to a backboard fighting off waves of panic, I hung on to sanity by mentally reciting the lyrics to the longest song I could think of: “The Day The Music Died” From the moment I knew the kids were safely out of the vehicle, through the extrication and two ambulance rides, through CT scans and a claustrophobic meltdown in the MRI, that song ran in an endless loop through my mind.
I know the song is really about the plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and The Big Bopper. But for me, it is now about the night another chapter of my life ended. Every page after that is about life with a disability. I have had to deal with depression, anxiety, self-pity and PTSD, and it’s just now, eighteen months later, that I am finally beginning to heal on the inside in ways I never can on the outside.
I guess the music didn’t really die for me; I just had to learn new songs.
Gloria Estefan wrote “Coming out of the Dark” after breaking her back in a bus crash. For me, that song represents my hopes for the future. I want to keep coming out of the very dark place that has held me prisoner for far too long. I want to keep healing and growing stronger, inside and out. I want to keep coming out of the dark.
And there it is: the soundtrack of my life. A bit darker, more maudlin than I expected it to be, but I like the fact that it’s ending on an upbeat note, full of hope.