Author: Bridget Benevides
Lately I have been thinking a lot about vulnerability—its relation to my life and how I should be accepting it more than I am. Often times, the more afraid we are, the more vulnerable we feel, and there is a lot we can be afraid of today: violence, racism, homophobia, and our government to name a few. And when we feel vulnerable we tend to numb or to say, “shut up, I am right and you are wrong,” which can obviously be an issue. The lack of conversation, the lack of discourse, and the high incidence of blame is an issue we see every day. We blame (ourselves and others) as a way to dissipate the discomfort and to avoid vulnerability. Attempting to selectively numb the discomfort of vulnerability is problematic because you cannot numb the bad stuff without numbing the good stuff too. So, by avoiding conversations in which we must be vulnerable we avoid the opportunity to learn, grow, and make change.
I have been telling myself that by embracing vulnerability, I have the opportunity to embrace kindness, compassion, joy, and connection in my communities. It will be neither excruciating nor comfortable but it is necessary for connection and the development of a positive life.
As I head into the new year there are two things I will be focusing on: patience and vulnerability. When I was little my grandma would say to me, “Patience. Patience is my favorite word” and I would say “Okay grandma, I’ve been patient for 5 seconds can I have the jellybean now?” But as I continue to grow and become my own person in this messy life, I have come to realize that patience really is a virtue. I am learning to be patient with my family as they do things right and as they do things wrong and they do things to the best of their ability. I am learning to be patient with my peers as we try new things and do stupid stuff and focus selfishly on ourselves and learn what it means to support each other. I am learning to be patient with myself as I see where I think I am supposed to be, compared to where I am, compared to where I want to be; and I am learning to be patient with myself as I am accepting and re-accepting the idea that the nonlinearity of life is what makes it so exciting.
So, I think having the patience to accept vulnerability as a positive influence can be beneficial because when we do that, we can be kinder and gentler to ourselves and in turn be kinder and gentler to our communities. As I have been mulling these topics over, conversing with my family and friends about the changes I hope to see in 2019 and being excitedly optimistic I am feeling like a light shade of pink: raw and fleshy and natural in all the right ways. I am feeling soft. I am feeling emotional. And I have been lucky enough to be introduced to the music of Tom Misch who helps me feel happy and empowered as I navigate through this stage of pink.
London-based producer/singer/songwriter Tom Misch blends hip-hop-inspired beats with smoothly soulful vocals and guitar. He is the son of an artist and a psychiatrist, he grew up in a home that encouraged creativity, and learned to play violin at a young age. After listening to rock music for most of his childhood and teens, he discovered hip-hop thanks to one of his sister’s boyfriends, and was particularly inspired by the work of J Dilla. Misch started making his own beats and took classes in music technology, and began posting tracks online in 2012. He released his first EP in 2014 after collaborating with Carmody. Since then he has released four collections, including his first full-length album Geographyin 2018. (source)
For me, Tom Misch’s music is appealing due to how dynamic is it. The sounds are layered so uniquely but create music that is easy to listen to. I never know what is coming next which keeps me intrigued. Some of his music features sections of simple spoken word, jazz, bass, smooth vocals, or simply soft instrumentals. It’s the kind of music that has me saying, “I don’t know why it works, but it does.” I am really excited to become more familiar with Tom Misch, I feel like I will be able to find something new in every track due to the complex and intricate beats that he so skillfully creates.
There is a book by Leonard Meyer, published in 1956, called Emotion and Meaning in Music in which Meyer discussed how music is defined by its flirtation with—but not submission to—our expectations of order. According to Meyer, it is the suspenseful tension of music (arising out of our unfulfilled expectations) that is the source of the music’s feeling. This idea helps me better understand that feeling I get “I don’t know why it works, but it does” while listening to Tom Misch’s music. Meyer argued that the emotions we find in music come from the unfolding events of the music itself. This “embodied meaning” arises from the patterns the symphony invokes and then ignores, from the ambiguity it creates inside its own form. “For the human mind,” Meyer writes, “such states of doubt and confusion are abhorrent. When confronted with them, the mind attempts to resolve them into clarity and certainty.” The uncertainty makes the feeling – it is what triggers that surge of dopamine in the caudate, as we struggle to figure out what will happen next. And so our neurons search for the undulating order, trying to make sense of this flurry of pitches. We can predict some of the notes, but we can’t predict them all, and that is what keeps us listening, waiting expectantly for our reward, for the errant pattern to be completed. Music is a form whose meaning depends upon its violation. (source)
I was talking to a friend once, about music, concerts, this column, and everything I love about the power music has and my friend said to me, “Why are you so obsessed with music?” and I simply replied, “How can you not be?”
I believe music is one of the simplest forms of communication, that transcends language and cultural barriers, that unifies one to themselves and their community. It has the power to comfort, inspire, excite and influence, and the more I learn about it, the more I am in awe.
Music For Moods is my monthly column that will explore the relationship between my moods and the music I am craving when I am feeling some sort of way. Each month I hope to tie in some science, in an attempt to learn and educate (because I find this type of thing fascinating).
This month I am feeling pink, and I am embracing the power of vulnerability and being patient with myself as I do so. I am anticipating positive change, listening to Tom Misch and remembering a quote by Brené Brown wherein she says, “to feel this vulnerable means I am alive.”
BRIDGET BENEVIDES | “The beauty of being human” | KXSU Music Reporter