power in words and pictures

Lessons in Music

Lessons in Music

“time wasted is not always a waste of time.”
― Terri Blackstock, Seaside

Sitting with the younger gentleman, she wore a beautiful smile. Pulling her binoculars from her bag, she explained that the field glasses would help her to clearly see the man on stage. The younger man smiled as she explained that he was her son and had brought her quite a distance to see the musician who would be entertaining soon. A long drive there and back home late that night, how easily the son could have felt that his time was being wasted listening to music he didn’t really know. It seems that he understood those words in Seaside — what might feel like time wasted is not necessarily a waste of time.

My article for the week was almost finished, but when my husband told me that he had purchased tickets to a Neil Diamond concert as a surprise for me, I found it difficult to focus on finishing my writing. Hoping I could think more clearly later, I decided not to worry too much. At the concert, though, my head filled with thoughts of how many meaningful lessons I was able to draw from this one simple evening. I’ll finish that other article later. For now, I’ll focus on a few simple reminders, not the least of which is how precious our time is — to share and to be shared.

When I was a teenager, I had a counselor at camp play a song by Neil Diamond — Holly, Holy. I immediately loved that song, and as with many of his songs, its familiarity, tune, and lyrics continue to bring me joy. My first lesson of the evening: sing songs that make you happy. Life is full of opportunities for head banging music, I suppose, but it doesn’t leave me feeling happy the way other music does. As I sang, smiled, and saw a few thousand other folks doing the same, I knew that the simple reminder to listen to and enjoy music should be shared. Hum or whistle a familiar tune when you don’t know all of the words and watch your mood be lifted.

Watching the mother and son beside me, I knew my second lesson of the evening: time spent bringing someone else joy is not time wasted, nor a waste of time. It meant a lot to the son to be able to bring his mother. I found myself thinking how nice it will be if one of my sons were to do something like that for me when I’m older. Even my husband commented about how nice it was to have been able to do something that made me so visibly happy. It matters and affects our quality of life when we spend a little of our time bringing joy to someone else.

Neil Diamond’s songs are still meaningful to me. This was his 50th Anniversary Tour — 50 years of making music that has been a part of millions of lives. Lyrics of songs are not unlike the words we speak to other people. Fifty years after we say them, they might still hold meaning for the recipient. That was my third lesson of the evening: Offer words you’d like to be remembered (positively) fifty years from now. Too many times, we say nothing when a few well-placed words might be just the tune another person needs to hear. The flip side is that our words can leave a lifetime of negative impact. Measure your words before you speak them. Sometimes, words come out of our mouths in a way we wish they didn’t, but all we can do is put lyrics of “I’m sorry” to a suitable melody.

If you have the opportunity to bring joy to someone else’s life today, it might feel like time wasted, but it is almost a certainty that it is not a waste of time at all.

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