When we sleep we cache in our brain files away the clutter and prepares itself ready for the following day. How we decide to fill that day is only for a very small part decided by us.

Albert Camus in his 1942 novel, The Mythe of Sisyphus, considers our futile search for meaning, drawing on Sisyphus’s daily task of having to push a boulder up a hill only for it to roll back down while he sleeps.  For those of us working for an employer, I believe that meaning can only be found in the lowest content level of what we do (our tasks) and then linking them back to the purpose and values of the organisation that employs us.  If a sense of purpose is not then obtained, one might need to broaden the picture by looking at our employing organization and its function in society at large.

I was thinking about this the other day, when a friend came to call. I knew he was fascinated by my hifi installation, so I made him a cup of coffee and invited him to listen to some music for a while. Sitting on the sofa, eyes closed, in the middle of a hot afternoon, I could see how much he was appreciating it. When it was over he turned to me and said, “that was like a massage for the brain.”  In an instant I understood exactly what he meant.  He was not debating the meaning or purpose of the music but the effect the whole experience had had upon him.

When I listen to my hifi system several things can happen, I can:

  1. Enjoy it for what it is, a piece of music
  2. Listen to the musicians playing the piece of music
  3. Listen to the individual instruments, to the sounds they are making
  4. Listen to the effect the sound of one instrument has upon another
  5. Try and interpret the musician’s physical struggle in getting their instruments to do exactly what they want
  6. Try to connect with the composer and the true meaning of what he, or she, was trying to portray; the effect, affect andhis or her meaning, story, soundscape
  7. Think about how the piece was recorded, the techniques and technology and people
  8. Think about the individual pieces of equipment reproducing what was originally recorded
  9. Sometimes just sit and let the magic of the notes wash over me, without thinking, almost in a sleeping state, no thoughts, no questions.

Mostly, it is a combination of all of the above and mostly, I experience what my friend experienced, a calming of the mind. A coming to peace and a sense of deep tranquillity, just as he put it ‘like a massage for my brain’.  Because of this, I believe that music should be available at lunchtime, either live or indeed in a room dedicated to its appreciation, eyes closed, deep and purposeful.

After such an experience, the afternoon has more meaning, more sense of purpose, more fun and more creativity. I am uplifted.

Have a good week