Notes from upstairs, with Melanie

Melanie Loggins, Academic Advisor

This morning I was sitting on the catwalk in the Student Center. Do you ever go up there? I like being up there because I can hear what’s going on downstairs but I still have privacy. So I was sitting up there yesterday and, down at the piano, I could hear someone playing around. Just a few notes here and there for a few minutes and then… a full song. A beautiful, complicated song. It was full of minor chords and long runs.
You could tell whoever what playing loved this song and had played it a lot. And I know that some people get annoyed when anyone plays the piano in the Student Center, especially during the day if they’re trying to study or talk, but they’re wrong.
Any time we hear someone playing the piano for us, not because they have to or they’re being graded or judged, but because they want to, any time we hear that we should be grateful. We should stop and listen and just enjoy it because if there is one thing none of us have enough of, it’s joy.
I’ll be honest, when that person was playing I was almost too busy thinking about how rarely we have joy to actually stop and experience it. I was thinking about you, unknown reader, and how I knew that I wanted to tell you about this person playing the piano. I had to make myself focus on the music, make myself just take a minute and let myself feel joy. And it was joy, truly, for me and, I think, for the person playing.
Is that a kind of meditation? Just pausing to appreciate the joy? I decided to start using the Headspace mediation app and, well, look, it’s not going well. I am not a patient person. I started the Patience series of meditations and you have to finish the first one all the way through to move on to the second, and I had to start the first one three times. THREE TIMES, man. It’s been two weeks and I can finally move on to the second meditation. There are ten. At this rate, I’m just hoping to be through the whole session before the fall semester starts. Just sitting? Alone in my head? And I’m supposed to notice when my brain starts to wander and then bring my thoughts back to my breathing?
Halfway through I’m already thinking about fiftyleven things and I can’t just ignore those and think about my breathing again. I’ve read that meditation is like working out, that eventually it’s like muscle memory and you get good at clearing your mind. I think I’m just going to have to take other people’s word for it, although I will keep trying to get through that patience series.
What I am getting better at, though, is just listening to music. And I don’t mean I’m getting good at having music on while I do other stuff cuz, listen, I’m already a world champ at that. I’m grew up in the mixtape days and have a playlist for every occasion.  No, what I mean is, finding a piece of music and just… listening to it. Not doing anything else. Just listening to a song for a whole 3 or 4 or 10 minutes. Maybe that’s meditation?
I know a lot of you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed too. Are you looking for ways to relax? To be more patient? Do you need joy? I can’t exactly recommend mediation because lol it’s not really working out for me yet, but I can tell you it seems to work for other people.
But if you’re like me and the thought of just sitting in your own head for whole ain’t it, maybe try just listening to a song. Not too loud but loud enough to cover the sound of everything else. There are so many ways to find music now, both familiar and new. But if you’re really lucky, someone will sit down at a piano and play something and if that happens, I think you owe it to yourself to close your eyes and just feel a little joy.