Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Ear Worm

The first time I ever had an ear worm, I was just a child.

"The Lion Sleeps Tonight."  
"Wimoweh ... wimoweh ... wimoweh."

I was so mystified and out of touch at that age, I actually actively avoided that song so it wouldn't happen again.  Like it was something bad that could actually hurt me.  When we're living a life that engulfed in fear, we avoid silly things.  Superstitious things.  We're bullied by shadows.  

While I was driving home from work last night, a song played on my playlist that I had meant to remove.  It is a beautiful song.  A remix of Everything is Everything by Phoenix.  But as it progressed to the lyrics:

Things are gonna change
And not for better 
Don't know what it means to me 
But it's hopeless, hopeless

I have tried to embrace positivity as much as possible.  So weeks ago, when I noticed the song in my playlist, I was going to remove it.  Except my house is being renovated.  Simple desktop computer tasks, like sync-ing your iPod, become a bit larger.  This time when I noticed it, I thought, "Well, it is a beautiful song.  Just listen to the music.  You are positive enough that you can resist being influenced by the lyrics."  

My mind flashed on my last ear worm.  I saw" Into The Woods" a couple of weeks back and for more than a week, my mind was haunted by:

Only I can lift the spell 
The spell is on MY house

The spell is on OUR house 

Just those lines.  Over and over.  Funny how our subconscious works.  All those beautiful Stephen Sondheim lyrics and that's the one that sticks?  A funny thing too.  It seemed to pop into my head at appropriate moments.  Meaning moments where I was contemplating some difficulty.  It seemed to emphasize it like I could expect no help.  

Only I can lift the spell

I don't know about you, but I'm not sure I want:

Things are gonna change
And not for better

it's hopeless, hopeless

Popping into my head three days after I hear it and, unless something stronger overtakes it, chain echoing there for weeks.  

"Three days?" you may ask.  I listen to a lot of music and I get a lot of ear worms.  As an adult, I began to notice a pattern.  The third morning after I had heard a song, I woke up with it in my head.  Or at least a small random part of it.  The trouble was:  I couldn't predict what song and I couldn't predict what little part.  Like I said, I listen to a lot of music.  I haven't yet noticed a pattern that predicts which song or why THAT song.  As I type this, I wonder if I can give myself some sort of suggestion to try and influence it, but as of yet, I haven't tried it.  

Think about it, though, even if it means limiting myself to songs that have uplifting lyrics, it is like tapping into the best affirmation system ever.  All those times, I looked myself in the mirror and repeated a fortune cookie positive statement.  I could have just listened to:

Because I'm happy
Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
Because I'm happy

If you found yourself thinking, "God I'm sick of that song!  They've soooo overplayed it."  You might want to clear on the limiting belief that great things without a "sell by" date can go bad or spoil.  Do we say of the Mockingbird, after hearing it a dozen times, "Not THAT bird again!"  

Ok, I suppose maybe you do.  I know I used to.  At first I refused to read Harry Potter because "if it's THAT popular, it can't be any good."  I've nearly completely weaned myself off that sort of negative statement nowadays and if I find myself beginning to judge like that, I stop short.  Book, song, food, whatever it is; I decide to give it a try.  

I've told you before.  I've been as negative as nearly the worst of you.  I'm happier now and I haven't even yet begun to exploit my ear worm affirmation system.  

I'm sure I'm not alone in this either.  If nothing else, it illustrates the usefulness of knowing yourself.  Of noticing those little quirky things that are how you tick.  Do you get ear worms?  When was the last time you heard the song that popped into your head?  

Another thing I was just talking about with a friend a week or so ago.  I used to have this terrible habit when I was sad or angry.  I'd go turn on some of the saddest, angriest music I could find.  NIN (Nine Inch Nails) sang my favorite "go to" song:

You'll make this all go away
You'll make it all go away
I just want something
I just want something I can never have

Then one day I found myself a tiny bit appalled just how much I was relating to that line:

I just want something I can never have

I can't tell you how many mornings it taunted me when I woke up.  

You didn't just think it, did you?  You didn't just think, "What am I supposed to do?  Limit myself to jingles and kids songs?"

William Shakespeare once said, "There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so."

No, you don't have to listen to jingles and kid's music.  But, whether you listen to House Music or Classic Rock, is there anything wrong with limiting yourself to the songs, the ones that have lyrics at least, to ones that are written in a positive way?  Songs that speak to the best version of you, rather than the sad, dejected worst version of you?  Feelings come and go.  You will experience more negative feelings no matter what music you listen to.  Why not try to salt the kitty?  Why not place your thumb on the scale to the positive side?  If you can influence your subconscious to talk nicely to you, why not do it?

I know, I know.  What about art?   Many magnificent pieces, in every media, exist that are not exactly positive.  Dark even.  Shakespeare had his comedies, but he also had his tragedies.  All I can do is urge you that self awareness is key.  Do you know if you wallow in sad, angry songs when you are feeling down?  Have you ever become aware of the inspiration for an ear worm or a dream?  How DO you want to feel?  What are you willing to do in order to make that happen?

Keep in mind, though, both movies and television programs have their soundtracks.  Today I found the song in my head had changed.  This weekend I watched "Cat Ballou."

She killed a man in Wolf City, Wyomin'
Wolf City, Wyomin', killed a man it's true 

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