don’t feel bad about feeling bad

Chet Baker singing “I Fall In Love Too Easily” is one of the smoothest, purest, and delightful experiences I have ever had in my life. Good music is just something that makes me happy, and I think it’s a fair assumption to say other people typically feel the same. There’s just something beautiful about when a song hits you “right in the feels”.

But as magical as songs can be, real life seems to match it with ugly construction sounds. There are moments when we are socially suave, where we fit, and there are also moments that are painfully awkward. We realize things are a balance of the good and bad, but it doesn’t make the bad feel less horrid.

Here’s a fun little challenge: don’t feel bad about feeling bad. When we start pathologizing our own emotions, it can lead us down tricky roads. Maybe your mental state is unhealthy and should be treated, but even if you think you can diagnose something on your own, don’t treat it on your own.

It often comes down to, if you need help, get help. If you are unsure, ask. Even the rarest conditions, the ones where truly no one feels and experiences the same thing as you, have some semblance to something else.

This applies broadly to mental health, of course, but also to the little things, and for the people who think there’s completely fine. If you feel something, you feel it for a reason. It may be irrational, it may be nonsensical, but it’s how you feel. Emotions change and will change, but often the hard part is allowing yourself to feel the way you do, and subsequently forgiving yourself. Feelings do not equal actions. They are related, but they are still separable.

Your actions are your own. If you know something is wrong, if you know that you’re in a tempting place, physically get yourself out of the situation. Take a walk. Listen to some good music.

When we feel emotions, they can take us over. We can feel so engrossed in our own experiences that we forget we’ve felt other things. But we have, and we will.

be sad with Chopin when you need it

If you’ve never listened to Chopin, I highly suggest it. His music is moody, dramatic, and that sort of stunningly beautiful that Romanticism brings out in all of us. Part of what makes Chopin as influential as he is is how in love he was with using the piano in his pieces. Unlike most classical music whose melody become entangled and (in my opinion) frequently too complex, his work clings to a sense of singular focus. Although he worked in an orchestral setting, my personal favorite pieces are the nocturnes with the solo piano. I doubt I’m alone in this preference, considering his Nocturne in E# Major is one of his most popular pieces.

My reason for bringing all of this up is that nocturnes, in a musical setting, mean “a short composition of a romantic or dreamy character suggestive of night, typically for piano”, as helpfully puts it. Of the same thread is Clair De Lune by Debussy and of course, Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven. The night is a muse for so many musicians, and so many piano pieces in particular because. Well, it just seems to fit. Part of what makes nocturnes so lovely is that they are sad. Contrary to popular media, we don’t always have to be happy. Happiness is a fleeting emotion, and that is deeper, further down, is contentment. However, we can’t even be content all the time. It is almost certain we won’t be. Depression is a problem because of the extended period of time it takes up, how it drags into the rest of our life. Sadness, on the other hand, is necessary. It’s needed, even when we hate it. We have to let ourselves be sad sometimes. We have to be moody, dramatic, and “emotional” by realizing that we have other emotions than happiness and contentment.

If we hold ourselves to an unachievable standard of happiness, we will most certainly become miserable. Part of life is the parts where we feel like trash. That doesn’t mean that we are useless or defective or wrong. It means we’re human. Sometimes we need the time to listen to sad music, curl up, and be alone until we feel okay. If it happens every day, or often enough that you feel like you can’t live your life, seek help. But for most people, for the one-off days that hit us, it’s okay to be sad. We are allowed to have our emotions.

today is your Rubber Soul

The Beatles are the most influential band ever. There have been other, very important, very famous individuals, and individuals who weren’t famous enough, but The Beatles blow them all away. They managed to change the face of rock, change what music could even be! Yet my personal favorite Beatles album isn’t the marvelous Abbey Road, but Rubber Soul.

Rubber Soul was a defining moment in Beatles history. Before, they had been mimicking the rest of the bands at the time, wearing matching uniforms, bowing in unison, and sounding fun but shallow. Rubber Soul began the major experimentation and play with how they sounded. They had managed to cause mass, hysterical love all over the world of their music, and here they decided to start creating things that were sometimes weird. They began messing with the technology of sound and taking risks, doing things people hadn’t really delved into before.

When something works, we want to stick with it. It’s safe, it is an algorithm we begin to depend on. Why fix what isn’t broken? But at the same time, nothing stays the same. Everything moves and changes beyond our control. Yet through that whirlwind of change, what we are challenged to do is grow. Each day we are given the opportunity to either become one-hit wonders, who cling onto old trends and let things pass them by, or take risks and begin something history-altering. The past is past. Rubber Soul isn’t the best Beatles album, but they needed that experimentation to create the amazing things they did later on.

Make music but make friends first

As physics has progressed as a field, we’ve gradually realized that basically everything is made of waves. Light, gravity, even physical objects are frequencies in some aspect. So actually, it makes sense that sound waves connect to us, because that’s the nature of our reality. Somehow mixes of rhythms and notes with a variety of volumes can speak volumes to our sense of self. Music is the closest thing we have to magic, and it can be absolutely amazing. The focus word there is “can”. If you’ve ever heard any normal children’s choir, you can attest that not everyone can reach the level of magic through music. 

What’s even more amazing is the parents somehow seeing past the horrid screeching at looking at their child with pride. Here you have something that can move people to tears, inspire billions, convince people to give up higher paying jobs, and instead it’s a wreck. But it doesn’t matter because it’s parents caring about what their children do.

Music is incredibly important, in so many ways. Yet it’s power depends on making us feel connected to other people. Songs are great because the emotions it gives you make you feel less alone in feeling them. As to say, music is great because it means that people have felt the same way you have. We need people. We need annoying people to remind us that patience is a virtue. We need beautiful friends to encourage us. We need authority to keep order and challenge when corrupt. There are lots of marvelous things, topics to delve into and analyze, but we should never forget that things aren’t as important as our relationships with others.