For this night owl, viewing the coming day optimistically every morning is a real struggle, especially this summer with a 7 hour workday most days of the week. In the past few days, I have realized that I “need” to have certain things in order to function as a capable student employee (and to form sentences in some cases). The “need” I’m talking about here is specifically… coffee.
All you coffee drinkers out there know exactly what I’m talking about. When my alarm screams rudely at 7:30 in the morning to get my sleep-deprived self out of bed, I groan and lay there for a few more minutes. During this time is usually when the pounding in my head begins. After rolling out of bed in a fog and going through my morning routine on autopilot, I grab some coffee for the road.
As I start to drink it, I can feel my head clearing, the throbbing disappearing, and the presence of dark circles under my eyes (although they don’t actually exist). After the 20 minute, caffeine-filled commute, I arrive at the office feeling that jittery sense of energy that will propel me through the day.
Yes, I know that to some of you, this sounds a little overboard and crazy. Tom always calls me a coffee addict and I will constantly deny it because it’s kind of intense to say I rely on coffee. Caffeine can have good and bad effects, of which I am very aware, but there is no doubt that my coffee fix consistently helps me feel more able to take on the day.
Another thing that helps me get through the day (to get off this “I love coffee” tangent so y’all don’t think I’ve lost my marbles) is music. I recently went to a piano recital for my littlest sister, and as a former piano student of the same teacher, I could see a little of myself in those kids. Each performance had a different vibe, and you could easily tell which kids were super nervous, which were seasoned musicians, and which ones had just started learning to play.
There were some impressive performances of songs I had learned, there were adorable little ones picking out individual keys with their tiny fingers, but there was one guy who really caught my ear. There is a way (which for me is obvious) you can tell which pianists are mediocre and which ones are amazing. If you can see them having fun up there, you can feel the joy they get from playing, and you can connect with what they’re putting out there, that’s a great player.
This guy, who was probably in high school, was so energetic, so dang happy up there, that I found myself on the edge of my seat, mouth open, transfixed by his playing. He made me want to play piano again, and play that song specifically. The song itself could’ve been easily butchered or played without interest and it would’ve been just like any other average, classical-sounding song. The energy and heart he put into his performance made it a spiritual experience for me, which is fitting since it’s simple title was “Hymn.”
I’ve only felt that way about piano music when I play it myself and try to get inside the composer’s head while I’m playing. What were they thinking with this section of the song and why does it sound sadder than the rest? What story were they trying to tell? Why the heck did they put this in a key with five sharps?? I try to feel what they were feeling, and most times I’m successful. That emotion really comes out in a song.
This is why I brought up music as my second and final thing that gets me through the day. I forgot to mention that during that coffee-fueled morning commute, I’m always listening (and singing loudly) to music. With radio being the constant disappointment that it is, I like to make myself CDs of my favorite artists and songs so I can enjoy music instead of talk shows. Yes, I’ll admit that I car-dance and play air guitar, air drums, and air piano without shame. It makes the drive more enjoyable, and probably gives my fellow commuters a little amusement when they see me jamming out on an invisible drumset at a red light.
There is so much emotion and truth in music with no lyrics. I personally love to use my imagination and not be told what to feel and understand about a song. I like making my own interpretation of ambiguous lyrics and the feeling of an arpeggio, trill, or chord progression. Music is a beautiful part of life and humanity that should really be celebrated and not taken for granted.
For those of you who have stayed with my speeding train of thought as I’ve been rambling on about coffee and music, my two disparate but reliable respites from my busy work schedule and summer life: grazie mille. It was a long post today, but I was really feeling the inspiration and the creative flow. Probably from all that piano music last night.
Ciao i miei amici!