We are overrated – we humans, I think. While there is a propensity for kindness and love and the pleasant, gentle touches of friends, we are also noisy and hateful and we abuse each other and the land that breeds the means to our own good health and well being. Perhaps this is the reason behind only allowing a handful of folks into my life, as far as friendships are concerned. I have a hunger for closeness and platonic intimacy, obviously, as I have friends (new ones, even), yet seeing my own faults reflected in the actions of others is uncomfortable and depressing and therefore avoided a lot of the time. I have issues, you say? Well, of course I do. Fucking hell. So do you. So there.
Music is an escape. Sometimes a song can be so good it seems to have been created in an otherworldly musical Petri dish by ghostly hands unattached to a mere mortal. But alas, the rhythms blanketing one’s solitary existence are made by people. Though it would be magnificent to witness, the strings aren’t plucking themselves. The human element can lead to disappointment, not so much in the music as in the person behind it, often changing the way a song is heard and perceived. For example: will I continue to listen to Sonic Youth on occasion? Of course I will. That said, will I ever be able to listen to “Silver Rocket” again without thinking Thurston Moore is a complete asshole for shacking up and leading a double life with some young groupie bird who ultimately severed the matrimony of one of rock and roll’s great duos? Nope. We all make mistakes and he killed the awesome.
I hosted a friend from the US in my home this past week (told you…I DO have some) and, as with every visitor I have, we listened to a lot of records and wandered down a few roads less traveled, Bavarian style. Although we were together on these excursions, it wasn’t necessary to have incessant yammering conversation. Sometimes the silent company of another is just as (if not more) satisfying while the sounds and moving pictures of the world around you are enjoyed. We found ourselves on a small boat skating on the water of the Starnberger See to the tiny Roseninsel (“Rose Island”), an oasis where King Ludwig II gardened and built a cozy villa in his otherwise crazy, big and drafty existence. Aside from a couple caretakers who seemed to be doing more smoking than anything else, we were the only humans there. Us The Loud and Cacophonous and a gorgeous symphony of nature.
The island inhabitants were absolutely screaming their songs upon our arrival. Once nesting sea birds were awakened and scrambled loudly through the tall grass. Hundreds of swallows chirped and danced across the water for their buggy lunch. Ducks and geese became protective of their broods with proud, defensive stances and the audible opening and closing of wings. Ancient lilac, ash and evergreen trees were singing in the cold wind, their rustling leaves and needles echoing the sound of water sloshing on rocks and mud and sand. It was music, people. Music with nary an egoistic popstar in sight.
Now, while I do not consider myself a tree hugger and I prefer the feeling of cement rather than moss underfoot, I have a healthy appreciation of flora and fauna. I get it honestly (thanks, dad). Upon reflection, however, this was first time I was so overwhelmingly affected by the sounds of them.
Moving swiftly through life, avoiding conflict with many and reaching out to a few with a soundtrack of records by actual people (not plants) humming the background is necessary. So is human contact. It is inevitable for one’s sanity, mine anyway, even if I do find my imperfect self mumbling “I hate people” under my breath after witnessing someone’s particularly boisterous, ridiculous and rude behavior on a daily basis. I just have to keep reminding myself to listen a little more intently to what the quiet has to say. It will help me tolerate the loud all the better.
[Abby’s Road is a Knox Road feature published every other Friday.]