Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Power of Music

Do you think it's possible to find peace through soft AND intense music?  When I think about my first semester of college, I know this is possible.

I can remember the cold walks up to campus when I attended BYU-Idaho.  Before going out each day, I would wake up early, at 7 in the morning, and get ready to go.  I was usually the first one of an apartment of six roommates to take a shower.  I particularly enjoyed being the first one in the shower since it meant that I would actually get hot water.  Cold showers always made it so tough to take a shower, and I would always get upset after trying to take one.  In contrast, I loved getting into a warm, steamy shower in the morning.  Warm showers helped me (and still help me) wake up, and it was a fantastic time to contemplate and think about life.  I often was able to find peace and consolation as I thought in the shower.  I was able to have a private time away from everyone and everything, a time to vent as I thought of the struggles I was going through.  To this day, I still do most of my thinking while showering.

While in the shower, and while eating breakfast, my mind would return to the usual experiences of my life at that time.  I would quickly remember the frustrations of trying to deal with my roommates.  They would do things that, at the time, were just so annoying.  For example, they would never clean ANYTHING.  I mean not one single thing.  I think that would definitely still annoy me to this day.  They even hid all of the dishes in THE CUPBOARDS so that the cleaning check lady wouldn’t see that the dishes hadn’t been done.  We had an extremely lenient cleaning lady who made the cleaning checks very easy.  She basically wouldn’t check anything, so there you go.  However, with roommates like mine, that meant that the apartment got really bad really quick.

After being reminded of that, I would also remember that my roommates weren’t very fond of me either.  It was bad enough that they weren’t really into the whole cleanliness concept, but of course that wasn’t the only concern.  I felt myself getting slightly depressed.  Why me?  Why did I have to deal with this trial?  I had heard only of all the amazing times that my brothers had had while attending BYU, so I thought that I would have a similar experience.  Sadly, that was not the case.  At this point, I desperately longed for peace.

After showering and finishing my cereal (which usually was something very sugary and unhealthy, which probably didn’t help any) I would put on my coat and get ready for the trek to my 9am precalculus class.  I can remember the bitter cold, and realizing that I would probably be on campus all day, until late (usually around 9 at night).  This heavy workload had to do mostly with my computer science class that I was taking, the difficulty of which was amplified by the fact that I had never before done any coding whatsoever.  These thoughts added to my stress.  Again, I desperately longed for peace.

A man named Enos in the Book of Mormon illustrates the longing for peace and happiness that I was experiencing.  He went to the woods to pray, and he was able to find peace while being alone.  He exercised faith that God could help him, and afterwards he acted according to the peace he had felt.  At this point in my life, I didn’t understand going to God for help and acting in faith in order to take care of my problems and have a better attitude.  However, I did understand the longing for peace that Enos wanted.  I believe that God gave me that peace that I desired, even though I didn’t realize it at the time or think that God was really helping me.

Because of this struggle to believe that God was really helping me, I would often wonder how I was going to survive it all.  But then, as I would exit my apartment, I would put on my headphones (or rather my ear buds that also wrapped around the ear so as to stay on better), and I would immediately feel a rush of excitement.  The music that would flood into my ears and subsequently my mind was incredibly satisfying.

The most frequently listened to artist was Linkin Park.  I would listen to the intensity in some of their music, which seemed to be exactly how I was feeling.  The lyrics and music matched what I was thinking so often it was difficult to imagine that I hadn’t created the music myself.  In striking opposition to the intensity found in some of their songs, the softer tones of other Linkin Park songs would come on.  The lyrics and the music combined perfectly to help me calm down.  The lyrics in these softer songs would talk about letting things go, and about remembering a person for the good things about him or her and leaving out all of the bad things.  Their music could always help me relax and focus on what I needed to do for the day, putting aside the stressful things that seemed to relentlessly try to pull me down.  I finally had found that peace that helped me to make it through the tough times.  I know it might sound a little odd, considering the heavy nature of a good portion of Linkin Park’s music, but their music helped bring that peace that kept me going day to day.

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