Author’s Note: This post on finding a balm for anxiety at a concert is brought to you by my own newly-rediscovered sense of wonder and excitement about the future. I recently wrote that “I could feel the universe narrowing around me, the interesting paths that had once been open to me slowly closing, growing over with ennui and trips to the dry cleaner.” I am so so so happy to report that is no longer the case.
Regardless of what it is you like to do, just think about all of the future opportunities you’ll have to do it! Think of all the new discoveries or creations in that area that are yet to be made–some of them even by you, maybe. The future has the potential to be such a wonderful time. Let’s try to focus on that, and not on how much the unknown can scare us if we let it. 🙂
My friend Kim is the kind of person who knows cool bands. She’s the one whose ex had a personal beef with the main singer of one of those bands. She follows that band online so she knows when they’re in town. And then she wears jeans to their concert, like any normal person in her thirties.
I, on the other hand, am the kind of person who knows about cool bands from having heard about them on NPR. I’m the one who invites myself to come along when Kim mentions going to a concert even though I couldn’t name a single one of the band’s songs. And then I show up in the outfit I wore while antiquing earlier that day, like any normal person in her eighties.
And that’s the story of how Kim and I ended up at the War on Drugs concert a couple of weeks ago. (Yes, I am grateful on a daily basis that she lets me hang out with her.)
While I had fully intended to listen to the band ahead of time, as one must when she gets her music news from local public radio, I never quite got around to it. Instead, I was walking into the concert cold. If I’m being completely honest, I figured it would be a somewhat fun experience as I hadn’t been to a venue as small as White Oak Theater in a while, but I wasn’t expecting much.
In fact, I don’t generally listen to new music. I have a set of playlists I rotate through depending on mood, but otherwise I keep to things I already know. It’s easier, less work, less risk, to listen to the same old music. Plus I just really love The Eagles.
But you guys. YOU GUYS. War on Drugs is good. Like, really good.
I spent the entirety of the concert feeling as though I was part of a group of people with whom I was perfectly at peace (and no, I wasn’t getting a contact high from the youngsters around me). Every single song seemed to encapsulate how I felt about some part of my life. I could practically feel the songs, and they felt like pearls nestled in the palm of the lead singer, which he handed to me one-by-one.
By the end of the concert, I was listening to the songs with my eyes closed, utterly at one with the entire world–even the girls who kept accidentally hitting me with their purses as they passed, and even the guys who put their hands at the small of my back as they slipped by. (Guys, don’t do this. We don’t like it.)
The best moments […] are when you come across something – a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things – which you had thought special and particular to you. Now here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met […]. And it is as if a hand has come out and taken yours.” – Alan Bennett, The History Boys
It had felt as if a hand came out and taken mine, as though that hand was stroking my own and telling me it would be okay. I spent the evening in “the zone,” caught up in what psychologists call flow: “complete absorption in what one does, and a resulting loss in one’s sense of space and time.”
There are only a handful of other people’s creative expressions which which have made me experience flow. One was watching Crazy Ex–Girlfriend on Netflix. One was reading Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. And one was going to the War on Drugs concert with my friend Kim.
What I’m trying to say is these things don’t happen often. And if you had asked me before that night, I’d have said it wasn’t likely to happen again anytime soon.
But you know what? Standing in that crowded theater, allowing myself to be embraced by the band and the crowd, I had zero doubt that I would experience that sense of flow again. I was somehow incredibly grounded in the present moment while being simultaneously filled with anticipation for the next time I would discover another band–or a TV show–or a book–or whatever–that would make me feel the way I felt that night.
There are so many bands in the world, so many concerts to go to… and it was like I could see them all unfolding before and within me. What are the chances that not a single one of them will help me tap into that energy of the crowd, that energy within myself? The future is so full of opportunity to do wonderful things. Why am I always so afraid of it? (I’ll tell you why: because anxiety is a sonofabitch.)
And so I’m going to another concert tonight… and another in two weeks. Because The Eagles are good, but there’s so much else out there.
Much love, everyone. I hope you, too, get to discover something new you immediately love. – Lindsay