As darkness descends, light

I love music and I love to write.

So it was more than natural for me to start this blog a couple of years ago. I had a pretty high level of ambition at the start, as I wanted both to review new music and create a kind of a contemporary Celtic and British folk artist index as a ”guide for the curious and beginners”. If you can’t find something you’re looking for, create it yourself, I thought. Be the change you want to see, and all that.

As it has turned out, writing the blog and checking out all the new and older music has sometimes been a bit demanding. My day job comes with its own package of learning new things and being a responsible civil servant in the big project of digitalizing Finland’s goverment and public sector even further and deeper than it already is. I’m not a tech guy but there are other aspects to all that. Into which I’m not going to dive here, thank you.

I was doing pretty ok with the blog, up until the Covid pandemic began, that is. I remember reading about some strange new bug when we stayed in Glasgow for three weeks for Celtic Connections 2020 but didn’t think too much about it.

We got back home on February 3, right before the shit hit the fan.

The spring and the first pandemic wave took some wind out of my sails. I have some unfortunate tendencies to depression and anxiety, and I had to do some work to keep myself functioning between March and June. Across spring, my blog and other writing diminished and slowed down as I felt I was running out of energy and motivation, the pandemic and lockdowns putting out my lights.

At the start of summer, when Finnish covid restrictions eased and the Nordic midnight sun was shining again, I developed some nasty and hard to diagnose physical symptoms. June for me was a series of lab tests and medications; the final diagnosis was a relief but eventually required a computer scan of my innards and some more clinical tests. It was late September before everything was done and I was declared not in need of any treatments. Thankfully, we did have some very lovely domestic travels in July and August when my symptoms had eased and the weather favored us.

August had me writing something totally different, in Finnish, and finally returning to work, where new challenges awaited. At the same time, the US elections loomed ever closer and the insanity of the moment we’re living began to get to me. When my wife noted that no music had been playing in our house (which also acts as office space during the pandemic) for weeks, I kind of jumped. She was totally correct; I was not playing music, reading books or even watching movies. Inner darkness rising, again, without me really having realized it. Writing this blog was impossible.

So I made a promise to myself to do simple things: eat more veggies, go out for walks, read a good book if just a few pages a day, take a step back from all those politics podcasts that inform you of things you can’t really do much about.

Listen to music, any music, a bit every day. Make a list of the movies I really want to see but haven’t watched yet. Think of work as work and not as a mission. Be merciful to myself because chronic guilt just paralyzes even more.

So, here I am now, writing this on my little bluetooth keypad and iPhone, feeling pretty good and thanking whatever higher powers there are for putting an end to the torture of the US elections. And thankful to composer Max Richter whose stunning eight and a half hours long work Sleep has connected me to my unconscious in a stunning way and has been outright therapeutic. At least the first 1,5 hours of it 😉

All this is to explain why I haven’t written much here in months and why there may be other radio silences in the future as well. I’m sure there will be, but not this long or persistent. With US elections finally over and covid at some point taken care of (in the near future if all goes well), I’m looking forward to a kind of return to what we like to call normal, a time where my dark periods were shorter and less frequent. The old normal, that is, about four years ago. Ancient times, those.

Maybe that’s impossible, but at least a few steps in that direction should be possible. And, in any case, I now can and will listen, play and write. As much as possible. Because this year, I did let the circumstances, both internal and external, kill music for me for a while, and I’m trying to learn from the experience.

Music should keep you up and help you fight the bitter tide. Sometimes that may be very hard to do, but at least from now on I’m better aware of myself and perhaps can react before the first punch connects with my face, so to say.

It is now November 7 and in this part of the world, a long darkness descends. But in the place I am right now, there is again music and there is writing. There is life.

As darkness descends, there is light.

It’s time to listen and to write.

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