I’m a people pleaser.
Not something I’m proud of, necessarily, and not something that brings me mental health.
Nonetheless, I see it more and more in myself as I age: if others around me are happy, then I am happy. If the world surrounding me includes social interactions that occur without friction, then that brings me the most serenity. A calm to my life. A peace.
It’s music to my ears, that nothingness.
I avoid conflict, to a fault. Almost at all costs, I shy away from confrontation. It’s a character flaw, some would say, but it’s just so painfully difficult to be someone I am not. I work with it as best as possible, yet recognition is no cure. Oh, I can act the part while teaching, coaching, or parenting. And in reality, I get angry just like anyone. There’s a temper in here for sure– if heated, it boils over like a reluctant pot of bubbling water. It used to overflow more often. But it was never something I enjoyed. The dread of… of moral hypocrisy? …I’m sure has similarities to a pacifist forced into a fist fight.
My true relaxation seems to come when friends and family, and anyone I see day to day or week to week, carry a smile. When others genuinely express that their life is good, so is mine.
I’m not referring to avoiding interactions in order to steer clear of any and all stress or drama. I’ll take the good with the bad. I most definitely want things to do and people to talk to. I’m merely coming to terms with the fact that some of my own happiness is dependent on the happiness of others. Non-eventful days are particularly appealing.
When I can sit down at the end of a Friday without the stress of responsibility (and without carrying others’ as well), that’s when I feel like I’m truly happy. A look back on the ups and downs, the wheels of the week now smooth and free from rocks or cracks in the sidewalk.
It is then when I can fill that nothingness, fill that still silence, if I choose. Pour a drink, flip on the turntable, and drop myself into a record. The world keeps spinning. Right along with the deck and me, the world keeps spinning. All those skips give me pause. All those crackles let me breathe.
To lose yourself in sound and lyrics is something I wish for everyone. After all, our favorite albums are the soundtrack to ourselves.
It should be no secret that music has helped me stay alive this long. Music has been one of my constants in a lifetime of change. It has seen me age, and awkwardly so. It has seen me make bad decisions, and dread repercussion. It has seen me laugh, cry, scream, and puke. It has taken me across the country on the kick of a dream. It has kept me home in the arms of my family.
I rarely write any stream of consciousness without it. And even then, when the editing grip finally takes hold, I can hear the echo in the embers. It’s in pieces, in manic-depressant fits of stress and relaxation. Like dust motes in the blank stare of a daydream, music can fill space or demand attention. Depending on the mood, music confirms or denies feelings of self-worth, vents of frustration, and outbursts of elation.
Without a doubt it is there in the music, there in the crisp pops of vinyl both old and new, that proves, right or wrong, it’s a combination of happiness with others and time to myself providing life content. Like music to my ears.
The whiskey? Just a cloudy muse.