Music is a funny thing.
It’s everywhere around us, much like in the movies, it’s a soundtrack to our lives that we often only notice in retrospect – an old song comes along and immediately transports you to that time and place when it was dear to your heart.
We connect to new songs deeply at times because the words say what we feel in ways that we can’t and backed up with a catchy tune that worms its way into our hearts.
Music shapes our memories – some for events, some for people.
For me it’s mostly people. Songs remind me of periods of time that I associate with boys – ones I was dating, ones I was crushing on, the one who made the biggest impact on the woman I grew into but that’s a long story - in progress for another time and place.
Ultimately music inspires me.
It’s why I write with music. To be transported into my mind, into my heart.
My writing playlist is random and eclectic – the songs that I would barely admit to being in my itunes let alone on a playlist I choose to listen to often.
But these songs – they bring me back.
Back to periods of my biggest changes, my biggest lessons. The sad times my heart knew something was up long before my heart got broken. The happy times being cherished and living in the sunshine of other peoples smiles.
Sometimes I’ll be surprised at the memories that music invokes in me, a song I barely even know will transport me to days gone by. New song – new for me at least – often will invoke inspiration for me to write if I’m in the right frame of mind.
I’ve been listening a lot to Smooth FM on digital radio (a sign of my getting old perhaps but we’ll leave that one alone for another day). Anyway, Shaun bought a new digital Makita radio for work but it has yet to leave our kitchen counter as I’m constantly streaming something (ok, Smooth, I’m constantly streaming Smooth FM).
As I was ironing some fabric for the next quilt I’m making (ok, guess I am officially old) I heard a song I’d never heard before by someone named Charlene (I looked it up, she was a one hit wonder). Anyway, the song was I’ve Never Been to Me. Check out the video if you want to know all the lyrics.
It’s a sad song in many ways – she sings in a tone of regret for having traveled to paradise, having experienced many things but she has ‘never been to me’.
This got me thinking of life these days. It’s no secret that I have traveled, moving to Australia over four years ago having never even been to this country but even before that I had been lucky to see many corners of the globe.
I have always loved traveling, perhaps because of how often I moved around while I was a child – it was fantastic to see the world while still having a place to run back to.
But what perhaps is a bit more unknown about me is that I never truly felt connected to a place until I moved here. I knew Toronto was always going to be temporary and the first chance I got I moved to Vancouver without thinking twice.
Vancouver was a city I already loved having lived there for four short months three times before throughout workterms at university. I thought that was it for me – being Canadian I felt tied to the soil in so many ways but even then I knew in the quiet places of my heart that it would never be home.
When I arrived in 2004 with nothing but what was in my car I didn’t think I’d still be there for the 2010 winter Olympics and yet I was. Strange how things sometimes work out.
I wouldn’t trade my time in Vancouver but when an opportunity to move half way around the world – something that hadn’t really crossed my mind as being an option – I once again jumped. I did think twice but couldn’t pass up the opportunity to experience and grow.
What was different though between these two big moves was that in the first I was still trying to find my happiness, thinking that it was somehow tied to a new place, a fresh start.
It’s this idea that the song got me thinking about – our search for happiness, for a life of fulfillment rather than of regret (which are useless by the way – a dear friend taught me that, I’ll get into that another time though).
So I crossed the mountains into Vancouver searching for happiness and what I found instead was contentedness. I was on the path to loving myself but wasn’t quite there yet. But this wasn’t tied to a place. It was tied to me – wherever I went, there I was. Cliché I know but there is so much truth to that.
We can’t outrun ourselves, and if we don’t like ourselves very much then it’s a truly shitty place to live. We can change out external environment a million times over but we can only change ourselves when we stop. When we stop and connect with ourselves.
It’s the title of that song – I’ve never been to me.
When have you stopped and looked inward, found the beauty within and the path to loving yourself more honestly and deeply for all that you are – dreams and desires, demons and damage. All of it – loved.
Because until you’ve gone inward, until you’ve gone to you, it will be hard to find any lasting happiness.
I have seen the world, I have been to many paradises, I have run away and I have found home but it was only when I connected to my true self, let go of the stories and learned I was worth loving that happiness descended upon me in so many ways.
I have been to me.