Monday, February 13, 2012

Music Purging Ain't Easy

Yes, I know it's not proper grammar. And, yes, I HAVE done coursework (read 70+ pages so far today) so I am not procrastinating. This is my break from fact cramming. :)

I've been doing "music purge" on and off for the past couple of months. What exactly is the point of the purge? Well, in nutshell, I am getting rid of all the music that I would have to bring up in confession. More that later. See, I have this sort of "rule" when it comes to entertainment (movies, shows, books, and music) to help me with that... if I cannot watch, read, or listen to it with my mother next to me, I won't. In some cases, when I think mom would be okay with some things that maybe she shouldn't be (lol), I think "if (paternal) grandma, who was a devout, holy woman, was alive, would we be able to be 'entertained' by this?" If the answer is no, then... well, you get the gist.

Now before anyone gets into the "you're being too scrupulous" lecture some of you love giving me, let me explain something. I was raised in a household that did not have these things... or at least, if there were unsavory things present that I should've not known about, I never found out about them growing up. My parents tried to not curse in front of me and when they slipped, they would always apologize to me. My parents never fought in front of me. I never saw either of my parents smoke (neither did) nor drink. I was asked to look away during kissing scenes (though this mellowed as I got into my teens) and they would quickly turn the TV off or change the channel if it was going further than kissing. Some might say that I was being overprotected and sheltered but I say that my parents were trying protect my soul from those kinds of things. There is nothing wrong with it and I am very grateful to my parents for it.

My teen years into my early 20s... well, I heard, did, and saw things (both unwillingly and out of curiosity) that, when I returned to the Church, I vowed never to do again. One was swearing. I never did it much prior to my reversion but I was less cautious about what slipped out of my mouth. Two was changing the friends I had, who exposed me to conversations I would rather my future children never have or listen to at that age. Third was getting rid of things that could potentially cause me to sin... especially with my mind.

As often stated, music is one of the biggest parts of my life. The only times I've ever gone without music have been the day my father died and the day of his funeral. I arm myself with a fully charged iPod touch and music apps on my Android phone every time I step out of the house. I will also occasionally leave it on all night so that songs like Debussy's "Clair de Lune" will help me sleep. Because I have it on almost 24/7, I've made a conscious effort to be careful with what I am exposed to.

Poll time: How many of you would be comfortable listening to the follow lyrics of a song I had twice by two different artists with your grandparents?: "Birds do it, bees do it / Even educated fleas do it / Let's do it, let's fall in love / In Spain, the best upper sets do it / Lithuanians and Latts do it / Let's do it, let's fall in love / The Dutch in old Amsterdam do it / Not to mention the Fins / Folks in Siam do it - think of Siamese twins..." Yes, in the end, they are talking about falling in love and not the actual act but it's still very suggestive and I've would never listened to it in front of my grandma. I grew up listening to a lot of these jazz/swing standards but it wasn't until I (both) took my Jazz in American History course (when I was a Jazz Studies major) and until I really listened to the words that I realized what the song was really about. Needless to say, the more I try to live a holy life (key word: try), the more uncomfortable I am with these things being in my possession.

I'll be the first to admit that most of the time I don't pay attention to the lyrics. I pay attention to the melody first; the lyrics come second... and much later. I think that my mind may be too innocent at times (seriously, ask some of my friends how surprised they are that I don't "get" a third of the stuff they talk about) so my interpretation of the song lyrics is just that: innocent. I don't get some of sexual innuendos until they are pointed out to me by someone.

How does confession figure into all of this? I examine my conscience closely. Very closely. I try to avoid things that I know I will come across when I'm using the iConfess app before I go into the confessional. It will ask you to mark the "I did not avoid the occasions of impurity" and/or the "I did not seek to be chaste in my thoughts, words, actions" flags if you have done it. It will ask you to "flag" the "I told impure stories, or listened to them" option which can easily apply to music. Songs (that are not instrumental) are like little stories you listen to. Do I want to confess that I willfully listened to something that could've sparked an impure thought in my mind? No, but I would if I did because that's breaking the 6th Commandment. I will make myself accountable for my actions. So, while deleting songs and throwing away records of songs I loved before I knew what they were really about isn't easy, it's absolutely necessary for my soul. You may or may not agree with me but this is something I am personally doing for myself. :)

Current stats: I am down to 737 songs on my iTunes list (and I haven't finished going through them) and I still have my Spotify lists to go through. Oh yes; I'm serious. This self-proclaimed music nerd (who just bought Benny Goodman and George Gershwin vinyl records - on sale for a buck! - over the weekend) is being more careful and enjoying it. :)

Anyway I just wanted to share... and, okay, procrastinate a bit. lol. I have my Music paper to write (which I can do in under an hour) and then continue reading for my Harlem Renaissance course since I have a paper due for it on Thursday. :)

I hope y'all had a great weekend and start of week. :D

As always, thanks for reading and God Bless. :D


K. Suzanne said...

A little bit off topic, but...

You're taking a Harlem Renaissance course?? I'm taking a seminar on Black Fiction in the Americas, and we had a unit on the Harlem Renaissance. Very cool stuff.

Emmy Cecilia said...

Yup. The entire class is about the Harlem Renaissance -- politics, writers, music, etc.

Stacy said...

I 100% agree with this. I used to say that the whole "watch your thoughts they become your words, watch your words they become your actions..." thing was dumb. I am in control of me, so I can enjoy things and still uphold my character.

Yeah, the quote really is true and the more I let myself enjoy secular things that were value-less or had not so great values, the more secular I became. I went so far as to being on the extreme left and becoming nothing more than a Sunday Catholic.

When I dug my way back to God, music (and movies) were things that bothered me. I realized that they DO have a big influence, and I also thought about how some things I like to hear without even paying attention to the words, would definitely be picked up by future hypothetical children. I found it easier to purge that stuff now than waiting until I have kids.

Long tangent lol, but I totally agree with you.

Lauren said...

Catching up on your blog, but I must say that your last two posts really resonate with me! I too have suffered from various mental illnesses for a long time (though I primarily suffer from depression, with anxiety secondarily... or so my doctor said, because honestly the anxiety is much more of a challenge). The music and media influences thing is another which keeps popping into my thoughts and my life lately as well. I'm not exactly sure yet in what way(s) I'm called to change the media I allow into my life, but I know that there are some changes that need to occur.

Keep up the good writing. :)

Marc Davignon said...

Hi Emmy! I just stumbled upon your blog this evening, and this post really caught my attention as I was browsing through some of what you had to say. To myself as well, music is 80 to 90 percent the "music" and the rest lyrics. (as an aside, Clare de Lune is tied with Miles Davis' "Blue and Green" for the most stunningly beautiful song I’ve ever heard) Even then, lyrics to me are more another instrument than anything else often times. Just recently actually, I played a song for a friend of mine who started to giggle that I could ever like something with such "saucy" lyrics in it. As difficult as it is, I think you're very right that you have to just get rid of music that can be a negative influence. I find it difficult personally to differentiate between music that is melancholy in the sense that it deals with more serious topics, and uses more minor scales or something, and music that is simply just dark and negative. I certainly have a lot of music on both sides of the aisle, which your post has been a great reminder to seek what is holy even in "harmless" music, especially when music strikes a chord (har har) with my soul so deeply, it can be an extremely positive influence, or negative depending on the content. Thanks so much for your post Emmy!