Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Poetry of Friendship

I hope I never learn everything there is to know about my friends. Since I experienced moving to another country and making new friends, then returning home to old friends, I have devoted many hours to understanding the quirk of fate that allows friends to step out of the stream of humanity to walk beside you.

In a strange country with no frames of reference, newly acquired friends tend to be those people who connect with you through interests and personality, without reference to shared history and with a sense of a future still to be shaped. Friends from home possess strong shared history, which often blinds you to change in them, and even sometimes their deeper layers and potential.

Returning home has allowed me to use the skills learnt from connecting to a new friend to reviving the intimacy of an old friendship. Most importantly, it has been the act of finding new friends here in Perth that has illuminated each individual friendship, allowing me to find extraordinary new depths to my friends.

Perhaps the best illustration of this is my continuing musical education. Towards the end of last year my music collection was hijacked by a passionate musician who has taken up my musical education for my own good. The curriculum consists of many gigabytes of music and a series of extremely illuminating notes for the music selected.

With my inclination towards mainstream music, my first task was to listen to bands of whom I only knew from gothic lettering on black t-shirts worn by tortured young men of my generation. I bravely listening to Opeth for the first time in my life and, because of the copious notes provided, I found myself becoming quite fond of them.

My musical teacher insists on accompanying his musical selection, which reaches far beyond Opeth, with involved notes on the equipment, the influences, the history, the lyrics and, most fascinating for me, the mechanics of the music, the building blocks of the sounds that I am listening to. This approach echoes my own philosophical approach to my writing and my study, thus the music and what I learnt of it has became a part of my structure of thinking and I have an entirely new set of ideas to shape how I interact with the world.

I discovered that asking a man about his music is the fast-track to finding his creative soul, beating strongly beneath those black t-shirts with the names of bands that I pre-judged simply because they were not ones I listened to. Once I had conceded that the ‘boy music’ I had previously dismissed may have some merit after all, I began to ask every man I could my hands on about their music.

Friends that had been my friends on my terms suddenly became friends on their own terms. Terrifyingly new concerts were attended (I have a scar from my first hardcore gig) and acres of new songs pressed upon me in marathon listening sessions. My little brother was fearlessly discussing with me his taste in music. I am becoming the gig companion for one heavy-listening friend once he has realised that I was not afraid of the heavier music. Another friend, who fronts his own hardcore band, was compelled by my fascinated questions to give me a lightening tour of the influences on his own music.

The male love of music has taken on a life of its own for me as the poetry of the fan, and the lyrics and music that inspire them, suddenly arrived in my life on a wave of drums, guitars, growling lyrics and video clips. Even more improbably, my amazed mutterings about the new sounds and concepts that I was discovering reached my girlfriends and I discovered that some of them were far more knowledgeable about these bands than I had ever conceived. Discovering a taste for heavy metal music in my girlfriends after years of friendship is humbling, and bodes well for decades of new things to talk about.

I greatly regret that it has taken me so long to really understand the poetry of the male musical soul. Long a student of writers and thinkers, I had always conceived of the universal truths being held in book form. Music for me has always been a release from thinking, a primal physical experience. I am a funk and soul sister, looking for the rhythm in music I listen to, dancing for hours without thinking, just moving.

I am gradually beginning to see music as something more than just the heartbeat of the world. I am being persuaded that there are means for the musician to tap into the thoughts of the world as effectively as the philosophers of the world do. The pen rivals the sword in my world and I am starting to believe the note may too.

Beyond the increased awareness of music that has been the fruit of Tim’s guidance, is the newly discovered usefulness of music, and by extension other passions that move an individual, to connect again with people I thought I knew well. The reward for me has been using what I have learnt and discovered to involve myself even more in my friend’s lives.

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