Camden in the rain
Music can take the pain away. I took this photograph in London. As you can see, it was a rainy day. The area of London I was in was Camden. I wasn't feeling well. I was quite depressed and also feeling physically sick. I didn't realize it at the time, but I had a condition called Graves' disease. It had wreaked havoc on my body and mind for several years before I got diagnosed and treated. On this day, I was beginning to feel the symptoms: high anxiety, a feeling of emptiness and depression, a general feeling of dread, and the physical malaise. It was one of my life's scariest times because it felt like everything was beyond my control. I didn't understand what was happening to me and I thought that I was going mad. I have to admit that I do have a certain fascination with insanity. I really don't believe the insane are all insane. Some are just people who simply see the world differently than the rest of us. I envy them for that. Don't get me wrong. I do not romanticize mental illness. I know when true insanity begins to creep, there's nothing romantic about it. It is like being trapped in a hell on earth. I was lucky that a chemical imbalance in my body caused my temporary feelings of insanity. I can only imagine how horrible life is for people who have to live with mental illness forever.
On this rainy day in Camden, when I was feeling particularly down, I met a guy with a guitar. I sat in the rain, and I talk to him for hours. It was obvious that he did not have much except his old battered guitar. He loved to tell stories and sing songs. He also loved flirting with the ladies coming in and out of the café. The longer I spend time in the sphere of his positive energy, the more I began to feel his healing power. His music was taking away my symptoms. They were blowing away the cloudiness that was darkening my mind. Although it was raining on the outside, my inner sun could shine briefly thanks to him. I don't remember his name because it was many years ago, but I do have this photograph to remind me.
Once, a dear colleague and friend, who had gone through a very traumatic experience in her life, told me that she thought music would save her, but it didn't. She had spent her entire music career in pursuit of notoriety and pop fame. I thought that those things were the antithesis of what any artist should be doing in my cynical youth. In my older years, I realize that you should always grab wealth and influence when available to have the freedom to do what you want later in life. I do not, by any means, want to say that life should be spent in pursuit of these things. However, if you're lucky enough to have the opportunity to gain those, then you will have collected two powerful pieces in this game of life that will allow you to move to different levels. There's a sacrifice. In my friends' case, her sacrifice was her disconnection from the wellspring that once fed her soul. That's why music couldn't save her. She had forgotten long ago how powerful and spiritually cleansing music could be. This guy in the picture, however, was the opposite of her. He was an obscure artist with absolutely no money to his name. Still, he was happy to stand in the rain in Camden and sing his songs to whoever would listen. He sang with a smile, and his voice had the power to heal.