Highly holy Love: How I was introduced to Neil Diamond and the Power of Music

When I was 15 or so, my Dad and I were driving to some far-away destination (perhaps the Bangor airport) and a particular song came over the radio, which had been playing a steady stream of inane, familiar classic rock. My Dad (who had heard the song before) exclaimed, “Neil Diamond!” and excitedly turned up the radio.

This event was unusual for a number of contextual reasons. First, my father was (and perhaps shall always be) of a somewhat somber sort. In particular, during that period in our lives, we were dealing with a number of familial crises including financial strife and drug addiction, and although Da and I shared a bit of comfort in each other’s stalwart company, we were both pretty depressed at the time.

Second, the only music I had ever actually witnessed Da enjoying was classical or Indian music, and this was most certainly neither of those.

Suddenly we snapped out of our driving din and were paying rapt attention to ourselves and to each other. As the music swelled, a long-quiet emotion rose up in me to meet it: Joy. And with it, hope. Though I can’t remember the particular song (probably Sweet Caroline), the upbeat rhythm, melody, and heartfelt vocals caught my ear, and Da’s response caught my interest. I was immediately compelled to hear more.

Not long after that, I listened to several albums, and found that Neil Diamond’s ability to resonantly channel emotional comfort was one of the most effective cures I’d found for lifting my own mood.

Years later, having begun to study for myself the nature of resonance and psychology, I am reminded profoundly of that moment when I was introduced to the emotional influence of music. Though I had always enjoyed music (having been a devout fan of Ma and Da’s record player and selection of records, ranging from Johnny Horton to Van Morrison to Harry Belafonte to the aforementioned Indian musicals), I had not realized its ability to affect the psyche until that point in time.

Now, as I sit here contemplating writing (and even singing) my own songs, I do so with the benefit of Neil Diamond in my reflecting pool. The harmony of music enables words to resonate, and together, they can produce Truth.


Age does not define adulthood

Different people experience and assimilate reality at different paces. This is one step in the understanding of the illusory allure of “time”.

An extreme example of this is someone that enters a coma in their youth and reawakens when they are 30. They have had much fewer experiences than the average 30 year old, let alone the opportunity to reflect and adapt to those experiences.

Rates of assimilation are based on reflection of self and environment. As our rate of reflection decreases (negatively correlated with our media consumption), our experiences become more meaningless and our opportunities for refining our thought patterns (gaining wisdom) are lost. We perpetually reset into the last “solid” mental framework we had– typically the early adolescent, where development of self is too frequently hijacked by media obsession.

Growing in your strength and fiber as a person does not stop at any point. Trees do not halt their growth. They continually reinforce their trunks and roots, all while reaching for the stars.

Ice and the Primal State

I’ve just seen a huge reflecting pool made of ice, and it’s nice.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about my 15th year, as my 30th birthday is today.

15 years ago, in 1998, an ice storm hit Maine. A singular event that coated the state in a half inch or more of ice, leaving much of it without power for a number of days. The return to a primal state.

Now, another ice storm occurs, the first of such magnitude since the ’98 event. In many ways, this seems appropriate, as the recent bout of self-reflections my husband and I have been studying have been helping me to return to a more primal version of myself– one that is less jaded, guarded, and masked, one that is in touch with one’s self and purpose.

And just as Maine rallied in its goodwill in the course of the first ice storm, I am realizing that it is in that more primal state that we are truly empowered.