Music is something that strikes a chord in everyone. Whether rock, pop, jazz or classical music, it affects people in different ways.
For someone privileged enough to grow up in a musical family, there is no doubt it has affected the way I think, react or even see things.
As a teenager, I was bullied throughout high school. Yes, the hugs, love and support from my family helped a lot but it was music that gave me strength to get through the day, almost every day. It was my escape (that and video games! Call me a nerd). If things were bad, I would literally switch myself off from the world, plug in my earphones and put on a hard-core Foo Fightersor Red Hot ChiliPeppers song. One of my favourites being Foo Fighters’ The Pretender – a song that, even today, still gets me through difficult days.
“What if I say I’m not like the others,” a line in the song’s chorus, taught me that being different does not mean you are “weird” or a nerd.
You don’t have to be ashamed of who you are or of what makes you, you! Not being part of a popular clique doesn’t mean you are worthless. In fact it means you don’t have to conform to their ideals. You can think freely and openly and do things that you enjoy without feeling ashamed or with the pressure of such cliques.
I wasn’t not facing my reality or in denial about my school difficulties; chatting with therapists, teachers and mentors gave me hope too during many a dark day. But music became my outlet – listening to it, playing guitar and singing helped me to keep going. As long as the lyrics flowed I was able to keep moving forward with things too. A definite life lesson learnt through my love of song because, if you think about it, music is infinite.
Music represents many things. To me, it’s patience – because you have to wait to get to the crux or climax of a song just as “all good things come to those who wait”. Tolerance – because you can’t love every piece of music that is released or played on radio, but at times you have to just go with it – it’s the same with life. You can’t connect with everyone but it’s important to tolerate people for who they are. And finally, acceptance – because lyrics speak to one’s heart and sometimes, through relating to them, we can learn to accept both the good and bad moments in life.
My love of music has not stopped during my time at university. Music can, and almost always does, affect my mood, thought processes or even work ethic. When I’m working or need a burst of energy, a little Benny Goodman goes a long way. Feeling sad, one goes the Ellie Goulding, Anna Nalick and Kate Nash route. For those happier occasions, well Pharell Williams’s Happy, some Coldplayor The Beatlescomes to mind. Music even gets me through the daily stresses of traffic – without it I almost struggle to concentrate on the road.
At times I even associate music with life moments. When reminiscing about old flames or heartbreak, Jim Reeves and Johnny Cash play on an unbreakable loop in my mind (and on my MP3 player).
Music is my life, it’s who I am and it’s what I stand for. I live with music and, better yet, I live for it.
1. Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (1951).
Although not a recent novel, The Catcher in the Rye is a coming of age story which shares the experiences and challenges faced during a young boy’s transition from adolescence to adulthood.
2. Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela (1995)
A truly inspirational and tear-jerking autobiography that tells the story of the life of the late former president, Nelson Mandela. Mandela narrates his struggles under Apartheid before, during and after his 27 years in prison on Robben Island.
3. Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R Tolkien (1937)
Famous today for its film portrayal, The Lord of the Rings trilogy is a timeless classic which explores the fantasy world of Middle Earth. It follows the journey of Frodo, a young hobbit who discovers a ring of great power that could destroy Middle Earth if it falls into the hands of the evil Sauron.
4. The Help by Kathryn Stockett (2009)
Set in the midst of segregation in the American South during the 1960’s, The Help tells the story of three different women living in Jackson, Mississippi. Two are black maids working for white families and the third an aspiring writer who takes it upon herself to tell the life stories of the black maids of Jackson.
5. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925)
An American classic which scrutinises the lifestyle, aspiration and wealth of the “roaring 20’s” in New York City. The story is narrated through the eyes of Nick Carraway who becomes entangled with the mysterious Jay Gatsby – a wealthy tycoon who throws elaborate parties in his mansion on Long Island
6. Ways of Dying by Zakes Mda (1996)
Ways of Dying can be described as an unconventional love story that takes place during South Africa’s transitional period from Apartheid to democracy. It has a magical-realist aspect and looks at the violence and dilemmas that blacks across South Africa faced during the transition.
7. Atonement by Ian McEwan (2001)
Atonement tells the story of how a simple error in judgement can have damaging repercussions for the present and future for oneself and ones loved ones. The story is set in three different time periods – pre, post and during World War Two – when two lovers are separated by a mistake that could cost them their future.
8. The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins (2008)
Set in a post-apocalyptic North America, The Hunger Games is a story of strength, endurance and eventual dissent against the autocratic regime of “The Capital”. The protagonist, Katniss Everdeen, is forced to battle it out against 11 other “tributes”–teenagers like herself–in the annual event of “The Hunger Games”.
9. Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2006)
Set in Nigeria, the lives of four individuals are thrown into chaos as the Nigerian-Biafran Civil War breaks out during 1967. The lives a young houseboy, a British citizen, a professor and a political figure are deeply affected by the difficulties that befall them during and after this tragic period.
10. The Perks of being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (1999)
The Perks of being a Wallflower looks at the life of Charlie through a series of letters that he writes to an unnamed friend. He describes his difficulties as a high school freshman, his life, love and his new found friends – all in their final year of high school.
It was with a heavy heart that White Lightning, my closest companion since 2006, was admitted to the car-hospital this week. Unfortunately, this has become a frequent event for me from the time he reached the grand old age of 200 000km, so much so that the car mechanics recognise White’s tender hummm when I roll up to the garage.
My friendship with White Lightning has been incredibly strong. I mean, how many friends do you spend two hours of every day with? This is our bonding time en route to campus from the northern suburbs.
In that time you really get to know someone.
Together we have stamped our place on the Barry Hertzog strip. To date there has not been a single fully-loaded taxi we have not been able to overtake. It’s a tough challenge, I know – White is not the fastest off the mark. He’s proven to be fully dependable so long as you don’t try to go over 55km/h, hence the origin of his rather apt name, White Lightning.
I’ll never forget the day when the mechanics all crowded around the pit and asked me: “How did you manage to drive around for four months with broken CV joints like that?”
Seemingly, White Lightning had been “living beyond death”, as one mechanic put it. Admittedly, White does predate South African democracy and still has a Nokia hands-free kit that fits an old brick, but that simply makes him a bit old-school.
Many of my peers in the newsroom have relationships with similar skedonks and I can completely relate to their gripes about the e-toll and petrol price increases which add to their living costs. In fact, from the beginning of this year I have spent over R3 000 on petrol alone. (Let’s not get into the extra costs of a new set of tyres, battery, lights and boot cable.) I have even made contingency plans to re-route my usual back-routes once everyone starts using them to avoid the e-tolled highways.
I can say with pride that we care enough to prolong the lives of cars like White Lightning across campus, despite not having much spare cash.
While everyone else will be relaxing on Workers’ Day, I know I won’t be the only student spending some quality time with their skedonk, giving him his first wash of the year.
Read more of Jay’s work at http://jaycaboz.wordpress.com/