Bob Marley, greatest Musician to ever emerge from the Caribbean (my opinion) left for us, among other lines, “One good thing about music, when it hits, you feel no pain … so hit me with music.”
Wasn't his most accurate philosophy but we understand what he was attempting to say. He had been born before the soundtrack to the movie, “Waiting to Exhale” so he had never experienced a woman, in her kitchen, with wine in one hand, and a spoon in a pint of butter pecan ice-cream in the other. She uses the spoon to double as a mic, as she cries uncontrollably, with the bottle of Tums in view. “Why does it hurt so bad?” - Whitney Houston, can hit with unforgiving pain as the jilted woman continues to try to get over that CHEATING ASS JUST EX-BOYFRIEND, who she stalked for days until she finally caught him with his “co-worker.”
Yes! If it’s the right song at the right moment or the wrong song at that most difficult moment, music can be as assaulting as good “you know what” hitting all the right corners with a thrust that is unrelenting in its force and pace - it just hurts so good; or it can come in like a wrecking ball to feelings trying their best to appear collected.
But this isn't what young Nester Marley meant. He was channeling the purity of all music. Unlike potentially abusive arms or violent intention in word and deed or the pain dealt in figurative and literal blows between one human and another, Bob wanted us to choose music as a weapon of choice. If we needed a weapon at all, music was the best way to strike out in protest, resistance, conflict or love. “So hit me with music - hit me with music!”
His was an appeal to a recently Independent Jamaica mired in ethnic, political and social conflict, just like the many countries of Africa for which Marley used music to address injustice, oppression, apartheid, and the consequential violence. Bob Marley’s melodic philosophy was an ingenious way for both the abused and the abusers to pause for a moment, if only in secret. They could rock away to the captivating rhythm of this modern enlightened prophet who was so emancipated mentally and spiritually.
I harp on the power of music because of its medicinal soothing in my own life. But as soul stirring and courage evoking as music is, it pales in comparison to love - real love, unaided and unconditional. Presumptively, some would argue that music is a language of love. And we can concede this as truth.
But in this yuletide season let’s just take a moment to borrow Bob Marley’s musical proposition and apply it to love. So, it would read, “One good thing about love, is when it hits, you feel no pain.” All kinds of heads just started shaking in disagreement.
I just caused you to start thinking about so many expressions of hurt and pain caused in the name of love. We can go all the way back to childhood parental neglect and abuse, to the siblings and friends that bullied or teased the hell out of us. And let’s not even consider the failed and successful romantic relationships for which we still carry wounds the size of a bear trap gone off in the middle of nightmarish forest.
None of those memories however tied to love, was actually love. They are all examples of the frailty of imperfect human relations, instances where love should have been present but was set aside for toxic emotions. Love was actually the stuff that swooped in afterwards and ensured for those of us who survived or are surviving, that we found the hope and faith to hold on for better days.
Look, we don’t come with a manual on love when we are born. No instructions, guides, warnings, dosage, road maps etc; we just instinctively recognize and respond to it. It calls out to us from birth actually, in the behaviors toward us that make us feel safe, joyful, courageous, and inspired about life. Love plants seeds which overtime yield internal fruit; forms anchors which hold us to safe harbors; and eventually if we let it, love of self becomes our internalized barometers for when it is truly present externally.
I guess what I’m trying to say, is that when love takes root inside of us, when we experience it within ourselves first, in a wholistic way, that is when we can testify to the fact that when love hits, when real love hits, you feel no pain. The irony is that a whole lot of pain is usually what gets us to this grand realization.
Two gifts in life, I wish for all of us then, on planet earth, in this moment of our continued human development - that love and music knock us the hell out! I mean that. If something has to beat up on us, or if we have to expend energy dealing blows on others, let it be the words and melodies of the music which lifts us up, and may they ride on the wings of genuine love which soothes our broken pieces and helps us to come to know the Divine.
Bob Marley really only reiterated the one universal message that all of the sages and gurus and seers and seekers and prophets of times gone, times present, and times to come conclude for all humankind: beauty and peace at the core is faith in the impossible, hope in the unbelievable, and love for what connects us all to one another. Choose them as your philosophies. Choose them as your weapons!
And make music (a joyful noise) about it.
Authentically Yours …