What I would say to the younger me

I read something quite profound today. It was on one of those really stupid e-card things, but for once, instead of inducing an uncontrollable scroll-the-mouse-wheel reflex, this one actually made me think. A little. The card read “ask yourself this: would your younger self like the adult version you’ve become?”

That moment when

Wow. Like the first time you see boobs kinda wow. Or that time you kissed that girl behind the grandstands and walked home smiling all the way – even though you knew you were half an hour late and dad was waiting for you with his belt at the ready. Man, it was worth it, and you’d probably do it again regardless of the outcome. (And I actually did – quite a number of times after that, he he).

I remember the day in the first grade when our teacher, Miss Barnard, asked the class what we would like to be “one day when we grow up”. The boy next to me wanted to be a policeman, the ponytail in the front (goodie two shoes) wanted to be a teacher, of course, and my friend James was aspiring to greatness as a pilot. Me? Well I wanted to be Superman.

The Epiphany

Miss Barnard, James and even Ponytail didn’t get it. But I did. I wanted to be my dad. He was invincible, bulletproof and how the hell did he manage to lift me up just like that – with one arm? He was a werewolf killer, a boogieman hunter, a detective of note and never, ever did he cry. I’m pretty sure he had a blue spandex with a red cape hidden in some secret superhero cupboard somewhere. (My sister and I will probably find out one day.)

He’s in his sixties now, and he still has his powers – although I’m convinced he only uses them now when it’s absolutely necessary. The point is, he’s still tough as nails. I recon life made him this way because it was an easier task than trying to get him to quit. He is a man who has had his back up against the wall many times, and never backed down – instead he pushed back harder. “They can kill me, but they can’t eat me,” he always says. I believe that to this day.

So would I like myself?

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The present day me.

Actually, yeah, I kinda think I would. At least I hope I would (if not, I could probably give the younger me a wedgie until he did. Or I did.) But the older me hasn’t done too badly really. Sure, I’ve made mistakes and Ive hurt people along the way, but it was never intentional and there are times I wish I could go back and prevent those happenings. But generally speaking, I kinda think Ive done alright.

I’ve traveled the world without any money, played in a real life rock band, lived in more places than I remember – mostly because I was fresh outta cash and couldn’t pay the rent, partied till the sun came up and even, almost, got hitched. It was tough, but I survived.

I have two beautiful, healthy kids whom I’m trying to raise by myself and I am fortunate to have friends and family helping out with that. Went through a terrible break up, lost my job and had to sell everything I owned a few times over to make ends meet – but I survived.

I’ve had my car repossessed, walked my son to school for three months during the winter until I eventually managed the cash to buy an old ’84 Honda which took another two months to get running. I lost some weight during that time, but I survived. During this time my daughter was born. I was forced to work three jobs to make ends meet. But I survived.

It has been little over a year now that I’ve been unemployed in an effort to follow my dream of owning my own magazine. I sold every little piece of furniture I owned to pay the rent – again. Lost the apartment I stayed in because, well there was that little cash issue. Many told me to go get a job in the months that I couldn’t pay my rent or even put petrol in my car. I refused. Three months ago the first edition of my magazine – The Planner’s Notebook – hit the shelves. The second edition is printing in three weeks by the way. So far, I’ve survived.

Even Superman has a weakness

Mine is love. It is the one area I seem to keep screwing up. And again, this is not because I want to screw up, but rather I obviously don’t get “the game”. Or I do, but I’m over it. This “game” is starting to become more and more appealing to the spectator in me. I could rant on about this, but I won’t – this blog is already way passed the attention span limit of most readers. I will say though that the further you keep away from your own kryptonite, the safer you will be.

So what’s the point?

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The younger me.

My point is that I probably wouldn’t like myself as an adult. But more importantly I wouldn’t care about the opinions of that younger me. In retrospect I probably wouldn’t like the younger me. In fact, if I could travel back a few years and meet the younger me, there is something I would say to him. He wouldn’t get it until now. “Pussy”.

Mozart and the Mosh Pit

“Music soothes even the savage beast”. Another perfect example of how misguided our education system is. Although this is possibly one of my favourite quotes, it is also one of the most misquoted.

It was the other William

Many believe that it was uttered by the Master Word Smith, William Shakespeare, when in fact it was from a play entitled The Mourning Bride written in 1697 by the English playwright, William Congreve.

William Congreve

William Congreve

The actual line reads “Music has charms to soothe a savage breast,” which is the first line of the play, spoken by Almeria in Act I, Scene 1. (The word “breast” is often misquoted as “beast”, and “has” sometimes appears as “hath”.)

As a quick point of interest, this guy was really done in by history as another famous quote was also attributed to Shakespeare – “Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned,” spoken by Zara in Act III, Scene VIII. (This is usually paraphrased as “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”).

But anyway…

It’s a scientifically proven fact that music affects our brains. And different music affects different areas of our brains depending on a lot of things, including whether we are actual musicians or not. One thing i for sure though: we learn quicker when things rhyme. Case in point is the ABC song we were taught as kids. Why this is an affective learning tool boils down to how our brains process information.

When it comes to music

One side of our brain processes the words while the other processes the music. This activates the entire brain and ensures far better retention of information. Our short term memory can only hold seven bits of information, and by combining information into a song, you are effectively taking two or three bits and making them one. This means you can actually force feed your brain through music. Surprisingly though, the sound of music has more impact on us than the actual lyrics, which is comforting to me personally as a parent considering the amount crap the modern rappers and pop groups “sing” about.

courtesy of Huffington Post.

courtesy of Huffington Post.

It is also important that you stimulate your brain with the right type of music. And by that I don’t mean doing the world a favour and never using the words “talented musician” in the same sentence as Justin Bieber or Miley Cyrus ever again. I mean that you need to listen to complex music if you are going to get your noggin vibrating sufficiently.

Like for example

It’s been accepted for a while now that to ensure your child’s brain gets stimulated properly, one should play classical music to them while in the womb and after birth. You know, classical, like Mozart or Hendel or Bach – real instruments and composers and stuff (for the kids reading…wait…oh well). But is it only classical music that has this affect, and if so why?

The Mozart Effect

Like “Crossfit” and other buzzwords being thrown around by people wanting to sound cool, this term is really misunderstood. It plays on the premise that listening to classical music makes your child smarter…much like how doing burpees and chin ups till you puke makes you stronger. So what’s behind this popular notion, what does it really mean and is it all hype or does it carry some weight…relax Crossfitians, we don’t care about your PB.

Basically in layman’s terms the reason the classical stuff works on your brain is because of all the different pitches and hundreds of different notes all clustered together making pretty sounds that get your neurons firing like the lights on your Christmas tree. The key being the combination of many different notes in highs and lows in short, dramatic bursts…like…a…really good…guitar solo…in a hard rock or metal song.

Meet the Slipknot offenders.

Meet the Slipknot offenders.

Before we continue…

I feel it is my duty as a musician and music enthusiast to set the record straight. Metallica is not metal. Seether is not metal. Disturbed is not metal. Linkin Park is not metal. Chad Koeger and Nickleback are neither metal nor rock musicians…in fact they are almost country rockers…like Crossfitians are exercisers, not athletes.

Alright so what I’m saying is…

Some clever people in white coats have found that classical, jazz and metal music have similar affects on the brain because of the dramatic time signatures and changes in the patterns and progressions of the various musical pieces. It also dictates that the brain is more stimulated by technically difficult to play pieces of music than repetitive melodies such as loop-tracks used in today’s rap and hip-hop genres.

Many argue that heavy metal is negative and causes rebellion in children. “Just look at those boys who killed all those kids at that school because they listened to Slipknot”. Really. Blaming music on school killings or teen suicide is like blaming spoons for fat people being fat.

We can experience music as something sorrowful, distressing, forceful, or aggressive, all in the comfort of our own home without feeling a shred of any real threat or danger. In the same way we look at art and perceive the emotion, we can understand the emotion of the music without really feeling it ourselves.

There is the fear of course that in the same way listening to cheerful music can lift one’s spirits, listening to angry music can actually make you angry enough to pick up a gun and start killing bunnies. Paradoxically, people often tailor music to their current mood, rather than use music to try and change their mood. Also…does listening to sexy music make you wanna hump your sister? Thought not. So drop it.

In closing (Phew)

To date, there are many theories on whether or not music makes your child smarter. Some believe they have found concrete evidence to validate this. They’re lying and want to sound cooler than their white coats and thick glasses make them look.

The reality is a report by McMaster University Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour in Hamilton, Canada which states that “The opposing sounds of Mozart and Slayer are presented but their difference not explained…at the sensory-cellular level there is no difference.”

Because we are all different,some people are drawn to heavy metal music for it’s perceived sonic qualities which means that this music is not making anyone more aggressive or violent than they already are.

Yes, really.

Do you agree? Tell us what you think. Join in the poll, it’s fun and you’ll get that great satisfaction of knowing you upset someone.