A few years back a heart-warming article was being shared across social media about an African tribe that, when a child was born, would gather around to sing a song over the newly born child.
The article explained how this became the child's own song, and spoke of their true identity.
And later in life, when (as happens to all of us) that same child had problems or did something wrong, the other tribe members would sing that song to the child to remind them of who they really were.
Whether the story about this tribe and ritual is real or not, it's inspiring stuff, right?
Not that it matters though; the story touched so many because of the truth contained within it. Namely, that no matter who you are or what you've done, you are always just a moment away, or a song away, from being transported back to your roots to rediscover who you truly are.
And this I believe, with all my heart, illustrates the spiritual aspect of music.
Time Travel Happens Every Day
We've all experienced it. You put a song on and, in a split second, you're taken back YEARS. And, with over 7 billion people now on our beautiful planet, it's not hard to imagine this phenomenon happening to someone every single day.
Time travellers are real!
Me? Well, I time travel listening to ‘Buffalo Soldier' by Bob Marley. 6-year-old Chris wearing his dungarees on a hot summers day: I'm totally and inexplicably there.
Summer holiday fun with ice creams on the beach with my brothers and grandparents, made all the better by a completely justified tantrum thrown at my brother when his ice cream was slightly bigger than mine.
Just try and chew on the gravity of this for a second:
How can one song do all this?
It's a profound mystery. I don't think we'll ever be fully able to explain it.
Back To Bob
By the time verse 2 starts in Buffalo Soldier, Bob-accompanied with ethereal “oooo”-ing and “aaaa”-ing from his female backing vocalists-starts singing, “If you know your history, then you would know where you're coming from”.
You see, that 6-year-old kid is 23 now. I've grown up, made mistakes, done stuff I regret, grown up and matured again. I made yet more mistakes, slowly began to realize I didn't have the solutions to all these problems in my life, and (while all this has been going on) I've anxiously been trying my best to build a career, to find my place in the world and to ‘fit in' (whatever that means!)
Yet, rightly or wrongly, as the idealism of my youth fades away, when I hear Buffalo Soldier I am given an extremely valuable token reminding me of who I am, what really matters in my life, and who really matters in my life.
Buffalo Soldier reminds me that it's the brother that my 6-year-old self threw a tantrum at, simply because he got the bigger ice cream, who really matters.
Buffalo Soldier reminds me that it's possible to be happy simply because the sun is shining and there's the promise of ice cream to come!
Sure, there's nothing wrong with building a career, having a nice car, or saving up for a house. But, when (by the grace of God) I listen beyond the familiar and nostalgic music, I hear the very heartbeat of who I am… I hear the constant, steady beat that never left me.
This, my friends, is what being grounded is all about.
Music has the power to take us to that grounded space within ourselves.
And, to finish with even more clichés, it's when we have this firm foundation that we can soar higher than ever before!
Suddenly my struggles, my ambitions and my anxieties, having been given a healthy dose of reality, finally feel a lot simpler and make complete sense.
What Does Your Song Sound Like?
So, just like that African child being reminded of who they really are by hearing their song sung over them, what reminds you of who you really are?
- Is it a song? If so, put it on a playlist!
- Is it a poem? Read it once a week.
- Is it a movie? Find time to watch it.
Just don't forget… to listen to YOUR song.
“If you know your history, then you would know where you're coming from” – Buffalo Soldier, by Bob Marley