There is a Light, Don’t Let it Go Out

Music has always been an important part of my life. From as early as age 4-5, I remember my mom playing the radio all the time: in the house, in the car, and everywhere, it seemed. When I was in third grade (age 8-9), I began taking piano lessons which I loved and found very exciting. I was making music myself! Incredible! I continued with lessons and played throughout high school. My senior year, however, was my last year of lessons and would be the last time I played the piano in a long time. Why? RA began attacking my hands.

As 12th grade progressed, the pain and swelling in my hands and feet grew steadily worse. I remember thinking, I can’t play the piano like this! I could barely comb my hair or fasten the buttons on my clothes. Giving up the piano was a big loss and I felt sad about it for many years. But even if I couldn’t play music myself anymore, I couldn’t give up on it entirely. Since the day I got my first RA symptoms until today, music has been a crucial and healing form of therapy for me. It’s a lifesaver.

Music is really something magical, I believe. It has the power to inspire, energize, soothe, calm, give hope, communicate love and understanding, and a million other things. I can be upset and in pain but if I switch on a favorite song, I often feel better.

Music: an escape

Listening to music can also provide a much-needed escape: from pain, sorrow, sadness, anxiety, fear, hopelessness, doubt, and regret. Sometimes, if the lyrics and music work together to touch you in a special way, you feel that you’re not so alone. There have been many times when I’ve felt lonely and isolated living with RA, like nobody understands, and listening to music always made me feel a little less alone and hopeless. It’s no substitute for real, human interaction, of course. But it helps a lot.

The following list are a few of my favorite songs with favorite lyrics that help pick me up when I’m feeling down and overwhelmed with RA and life. Or just resonate in a strong way. It’s magic, remember? I can’t completely explain it! I hope you enjoy the songs and please let me know if any of them mean anything to you, too.

1. “Pain” by The War on Drugs (album: A Deeper Understanding)

I’ve been pulling on a wire, but it just won’t break
I’ve been turning up the dial, but I hear no sound
I resist what I cannot change
I want to find what can’t be found

2. “I Get My Beat” by Richard Ashcroft (album: Alone with Everybody)

Take your time
It’s a beautiful thing

3. “The Weight of the World” by Editors (album: An End Has a Start)

Every little piece in your life will add up to one
Every little piece in your life will mean something to someone

4. “Mountain at My Gates” by Foals (album: What Went Down)

I see a mountain at my gates
I see it more and more each day
What I give it takes away
Whether I go or when I stay

Give me some time
Show me the foothold from which I can climb
When I feel low
Show me the sign post for where I should go

5. “Walk On” by U2 (album: Everything You Can’t Leave Behind)

Walk on
What you’ve got, they can’t steal it
No, they can’t even feel it

I know it aches
And your heart
It breaks
You can only take so much

Walk on
Leave it behind
You’ve got to leave it behind

6. “A Song for Someone” by U2 (album: Songs of Innocence)

If there is a light
You can’t always see
And there is a world
We can’t always be

If there is a dark
Within and without
And there is a light
Don’t let it go out

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