How a man on the Spectrum learns to live

Music is Magic

First of all, I must apologize for not posting in a while.  To be honest, I’ve been struggling.  The weighty feeling of the anxiety and depression I used to have more frequently has come back and I have had to deal with it.  Fortunately, I now have access to counselors and therapists who will help me sort through this bout of difficulty.

I suppose it’s kind of like coming out of an “Anonymous” treatment.  You’re never really “cured” of problems such as addiction, you have to be aware and ready to manage it for the rest of your life.  Being away from here for so long was because I was uninspired and just treading water as if this was a “job” that I didn’t want to be at, but had to.  Of course, that kind of thinking only hurt the progress of my blog, but now that I’ve gotten control of my latest problem, I’ll do my best to continue being a voice for anyone on the Spectrum.

This latest hinderance has also reminded me of what has always given me comfort and joy all through my life, even when my anxiety and depression were much worse and I was much younger.  Without it, I can honestly say that the internal anguish was so painful that I would probably be institutionalized or dead by suicide.  Even now as I write this, I breathe easier as I recall the pivotal moments that led to many artistic revelations that saved my life.

Let me ask you this: Have you ever learned about something that opened your whole world?  Do you remember the moment when you realized  that a hobby, career path, or simple pleasure was destined to bring you absolute joy?  Is it something you love so much that you couldn’t see your life without it?

Well, in my case, I have felt everything I described at one time or another.  It’s strange, but when I was little, these feelings were few and far between, and I didn’t understand why.  In recent years I came to the conclusion that because the Aspie brain of my childhood was so sensitive to criticism and perceptions, I wasn’t mentally strong enough or developed enough to see the good that was around me.  During my college years I did plenty of soul-searching and also sought out counsel.  I’m glad I did, for many reasons.

The most important reason was to discover the role of one very important thing in my life.  With it, I was able to see the beauty of the world during times of ugly discord.  I knew in second grade that it meant the world to me.  I honestly believe my life could have gone down a much darker and torturous path had it not been for my greatest joy; that important piece of my life…is music.

Yes, the power of music has been my source for comfort and strength no matter what I’ve been through.  I believe that because I was raised more spiritual rather than religious, I was able to see the true universal quality that music can bring to people without certain strings attached.  At different points in my life, I listened to a lot of different styles of music, and that contributed to my eclectic tastes.  I can’t go anywhere without feeling the need to listen to music on the radio or my iPod, and even now, I still recall the special times that music lifted me up to a place of bliss.

When I was in elementary school, I was driven by Mom to and from class.  Almost every day, there was an Oldies But Goodies radio station playing all kinds of music from the 50s and 60s.  It sounded so different than what was on the air back in the late 80s, but I didn’t know it was different, all I knew was that it sounded beautiful and I wanted to sing like those famous male singers who pioneered the sound.

In 2nd grade I was very nervous when I was told that a new choir was forming at school and I was encouraged to audition.  I was so introverted back then I couldn’t possibly dream of getting up on a stage to sing.  Besides, I had already had enough experiences with bullying since kindergarten that made me nervous to be in front of people.  I don’t recall if it was a second thought or more supportive words from Mom, but I decided to audition and I made it into the choir.  From 2nd to 6th grade I sang with the school choir and enjoyed every concert we did.  This gave me a sense of belonging to a group that would carry on to other schools I went to for the rest of my life.

During 6th grade, I was introduced to a woman named Polly Campbell; she was a music professor who was one of the founders of the San Diego Children’s Choir.  I was nervous and excited to audition for this very smart woman, but I was able to become a member and enjoy the benefits of not only singing, but having lots of members of my family watch me do something that I loved.  I began to feel like I could find lots of joy if I continued to sing on stage.

I also am grateful to Polly Campbell for how she influenced my musical education.  The SD Children’s Choir is famous for singing a wide variety of sacred and secular music from medieval times to the 20th century.  Because of such a variety of music, Mrs. Campbell was responsible for my classical training; many other great musicians and composers such as Scott Joplin and Benny Goodman were classically trained before composing their Ragtime and Big Band pieces.  I owe her a debt of gratitude for that.

Sadly, Polly Campbell passed away in January of 2001 after a long battle with cancer, just seven months after I left the choir because I was “aged out” after graduating high school.  The memory still lives on of all the performances I was in and all the training I received, and it is through music that Mrs. Campbell’s legacy still lives on; a legacy I am happy to have been a part of.

These musical moments are not the only ones that happened to me.  I consider these the pivotal events that opened my heart, soul, and mind to all the many wonderful experiences that became my salvation.  There are so many to mention, and each one of them is a post that I hope will provide insight into my personal experiences with what saved me from the dark times that occured.

My experiences are by no means universal.  They are the insights and inspirations that fueled the love for the arts that has been a driving force for me since I was born.  Music has played such a role in my life with Asperger’s that I have only just begun to elaborate on what it means to me.  However, I can say with firm certainty that with all that has occured in my life, music has been my salvation, and for that, I feel like music is magic.

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Comments on: "Music is Magic" (3)

  1. Tomas Flores said:

    … and the beauty of your soul comes through in waves when I hear you sing. Much love to you

  2. Thank you for this Tony. I was so into reading this post I totally forgot that I was doing something else! You have a way of opening up your heart and soul and letting us have a look see to who you are. You are inspiring!! Music is so wonderful. I home school Stevie and I saw his mind just take off when I started playing music while he did his math, it was beautiful. We always have music playing in the house. It lifts and heals at the same time.
    Keep up the great work. :0)

    • Thank You, Brigette. I had hoped that opening up through my blog would help others to see inside of me, and it looks like I’m accomplishing that goal. I’m glad to see that Stevie likes music; as long as it’s part of his life, he will have something special to lean on when times get tough. I hope to continue to lift and heal others with my thoughts on music and life. Thank You for your support.

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