Melodies of Midlife: Finding Joy Through Music
Selena, Age 54
I have always had a burning desire to fit in. This influenced my taste in music as I never ventured further than what played on the radio. I’d tap my foot and roll my eyes, happy to be up to date with current trends but never connected to the tunes themselve. Music plays an important part in all of our lives. From the lullabies to nursery rhymes, to birthday chants and hymns. I was desperate to find myself in the melodies.
For each year of my fifties, I have vowed to explore different genres of music. Going to concerts, museums, listening parties and operas, I delve deeper into the musical world.
The new rhythms have been crucial for regulating my emotional state and keeping my body active. I am committed to living in the moment and loving the moment.
Dancing between musical spaces has allowed me to get comfortable with being the newbie: uniformed, but enthusiastic.
I started my fiftieth year in plain darkness, standing still in an all black suit in an underground boiler room. The band sprinted onto the stage upfront with the roar of the crowd behind them and I blushed, scared someone would smell my inauthenticity. This was my first time at a metal rock concert, and certainly was not my last.
Mid-life had made me into an irritable woman, full of complex emotions with no outlet to express my hurt. I wanted to shout, cry and just let loose. Heavy metal is known for being loud and aggressive and, for once, I felt like the music I was listening to resonated with my feelings. This genre made me feel alive. I danced to my own beat and found my own rhythm as I expressed myself to this new fire inside me.
As I moved my body I affirmed my existence.
Five shows in, I was at one with the mayhem. Watching the young people jump around in mosh pits gave me a sense of hope for the future. I let go of the stereotypes that they were just rage-filled kids with no direction. Now, I see them as passionate people with a nuanced reality. This act of humility reminds me that we are all on our own journey of self-discovery, especially me.
I ended my fiftieth year feeling active and inspired. The passion of the band and the adoration of the crowd taught me that I was not alone.
Fifty-one was a mellow twelve months. The word was chaotic with Covid-19 and I was searching for something that could relight my passion.
Reggae music takes me to a different realm. It is as if the tempo itself is a pat on the back, noticing me, nourishing me. The rhythm of the music calms me down and eases my heart rate when I am experiencing stress.
As I swayed to the powerful lyrics of Bob Marley and Beres Hammond, I started to smile. The transformative power of music could take me out of my garden in lockdown, and off to an island on the Caribbean shores. The slow rhythm was perfect for my family members to join in, and soon, every night was reggae night.
I began to read books about the revolutionary cultural impact of this genre. The militant, spiritual lyrics grounded me at a time when the world felt so angry.
During these transformative years I have connected with music that is both uplifting, and a vehicle for protest. As I came to terms with the changes in my mind and body I felt angry, betrayed by my own vessel. But music has helped me to challenge this view and explore ways of being thankful for life. All these genres represent the unity I feel with myself and with the world.