Friday, May 30, 2008

I Am What I Read . . .Aren't I?

I have often said that if a psychiatrist ever got hold of my Ipod and looked at the eclectic nature of the music that I listen to, he would render me seriously schizophrenic. The 20GB or so runs the gamut from Gregorian chant to Bowling for Soup, the lute music of J. S. Bach to Pete Seger, the soundtracks to 20 or so Broadway musicals to Emerson, Lake and Palmer's rendition of Moussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, Willie Nelson to Girlyman, and the violin concerti of Telemann to the modern jazz of Oregon. The list goes on, but I think you get the picture. And yes, I really do listen to all of this stuff, admittedly some of it more frequently than others, but it all has its time and place. To a mental health professional, I'm sure my collection of music says a great deal about what lies deep within my soul. All I know is that I like a wide variety of music and Bach is not a good choice on cleaning day.

The selection of magazines that I read is as equally eclectic as the music on my Ipod. They range from Digital Photography to Bust, Newsweek to Hobby Farm, Writer's Digest to Vogue Knitting, and Yoga Journal to Southern Living. You may notice that nothing I read on a regular basis is related to music in general or music theory specifically. There was a time in my life when I read all of the scholarly journals faithfully. I even enjoyed a good many of them. Every now and then I read an article or two in the scholarly realm, but I no longer sit on the edge of the chair in my library carrel waiting for the next issue to be published. Sadly (or maybe not), I am much more likely to read an article about a pop or country star or the latest soundtrack in a mainstream magazine. This may make me a bad academician, but certainly not a bad person!

Like I said, my music collection does not really reveal anything to me about my true self. My choice in magazines does. There are those magazines that are indicative of the things that I am passionate about -- Photography, knitting, writing, cooking. And there are those magazines that are a glimpse of the person that I wish I was -- one who practices yoga faithfully every day or has an organic garden that supplies our produce needs year round. All of these subjects represent places in me where creativity and excitement grow, even the ones where I fail miserably at living that particular lifestyle. There is always hope that someday I will become the person that I think that I want to be. And, maybe not. It is more likely that I will continue on being the person I am meant to be rather than the one I want to be. For me, this distinction is much like the one we all heard as a child -- the difference between need and want.

For some people, TV and movies are the escape to the life they wish they had. For me the escape is through the pages of these magazines. As I look through Hobby Farm I can pretend that I am sitting atop the biggest John Deere tractor they make rather than sitting on the deck watching the manual labor mow my yard on their Cub Cadet. I can imagine that I feel the same peace as the yogi who is looking at me from his warrior pose. I can almost feel the freshly picked blackberries that make their way from bush to preserves in only two pages. I know that if I just made the time, I can make any sweater that I want from Vogue Knitting. In my escape through periodicals, I can be all that I want to be. And you thought that the Army had the lock on that!

For now, I use the information that I can to better the place where I am right this moment and I store away, on little sticky notes attached to my brain, those things that I might need later on. You never know when that article you read about digital manipulation to make your subject's hips look slimmer, or treating brain worms in alpaca, or dying yarn with beet juice, or preparing a five course holiday meal for 100 might come in handy.
I really love my little fantasy world. So if you will excuse me, I am going to go read about Mexican bean beetles and listen to John Coulter's "Even My Henchmen Think I'm Crazy"