Notebook

For weeks I would get up, dress, drive to work, see my patients, try to present a normal appearance. But inside I was dead, as lifeless as a zombie. Then one day as I was walking down Bronx Park East, I felt a sudden lightening, a quickening of mood, a sudden intimation of life, of joy. Only then did I realize that I was hearing music, though so faintly it might have been no more than an image, a memory. As I continued to walk, the music grew louder, until finally I came to its source, a radio pouring Schubert out of an open basement window. The music pierced me, releasing a cascade of images and feelings – memories of childhood, of summer holidays together, and of my mother’s fondness for Schubert (she would often sing his Nachtgesang in a slightly off-key voice). I found myself not only smiling for the first time in weeks, but laughing aloud – and alive once again.

I wanted to linger by the basement window – Schubert and only Schubert, I felt, was life. Only his music had the secret of keeping me alive. But I had a train to catch and kept walking. And I fell into my depression again.

Oliver Sacks, Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain.

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