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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

my daily dose of new music


Happy New Year! In the grand tradition of making or not making resolutions, I've decided that I'm going to be good this year and actually listen to new music as often as I should.

This guilt of not listening to music as often as I should has been gnawing at me for some time—it preceded my meeting with Augusta Read Thomas and followed me through my graduate school days.

And sadly, I never was disciplined to do anything about it. You'd think after a major composer stated I had huge gaps in my listening that I would have surgically attached an iPod to myself so that I could finally listen to enough prescribed Berio or Takemitsu or Rihm…but that didn't happen.

I should blame myself for being lazy, and I should especially blame myself for not having a plan to listen to more music. In fact, I had no plan until I read David Smooke's article about finding time to listen to music. That's it, I thought, I merely needed to carve out listening time. Simple enough, I can do that. In fact, now I'm forced to.

For the past few months (or maybe the past few years?) I've had crippling shoulder and neck pain. I'd sit at my laptop and the pain would slowly creep and escalate until I ate some NSAIDs like candy and hoped the pain would go away. Sometimes it would go away, or sometimes my stomach would start hurting instead, and most of the time the pain would not go away and I would have to stop working, walk around, and gripe and grimace that I was not getting any work done.

Obviously, this was not healthy, and so I decided to start seeing a chiropractor.

Long story short, the chiropractor took x-rays of my neck and told me I had reverse cervical lordosis. In other words, my neck is curving the wrong way, which may be contributing to my pain. (I also think my deplorable posture habits may also be contributing, but that's another story.) This is actually an easy fix: I am to lie on my back with my neck over a ledge (like over the side of a bed) for up to twenty minutes a day so I could stretch my neck back into place.

This is not my neck, but it's a representation of what it looks like..
I was to gradually work up to this twenty-minute mark. When I started doing this exercise for three minutes, I pretended that this was my mini exercise in meditation: I was to quiet my mind for a short time while literally looking at the world upside-down.

After the five minute mark, my mind grew restless. Knowing that I was never going to be good at this meditation thing, I had to do something with my time. Unfortunately there is not much you can do while having your head upside-down: you can't read, you can't surf the Internet, you can't watch television or movies. However, you can listen to music. And therefore, I have found a way to carve out twenty minutes a day (well, most days) and ingest my daily dose of new music.

My advice to you readers is this: listen to new music daily, and do it now before the doctors force you too. You will be healthier because of it.

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