I’ve been thinking about how music transports you back to a very specific time and feeling.
Specifically, what it feels like to hear old christian songs from my childhood. I can remember and feel exactly what I felt when I sang these songs… but it feels weird because I’m on the other side of it. I have a lot of complicated feelings about my ex-religion, but when I hear some of the songs from it, I feel the same way I did as a child-devotee.
I feel desire.
Desire to be good, mostly. A desire to want the thing that everyone else in my culture wanted (jesus? i guess? but that’s not really what I wanted. we wanted reassurance, i think. not a relationship with a dead historical figure.)
You sang the songs not because you were devoted, but because you wanted to be devoted. And after singing the songs you did feel more devoted, and it felt good. Because you finally were able to feel the thing that a.) you were supposed to feel in order to be a good person b.) everyone else seemingly felt.
But I also feel a sort of relief. The thing that I feel is so attractive about religion is that it is a space to put all the chaos and complication of life. Whatever you don’t understand, whatever can’t be answered– is assigned and answered in religion. So in hearing the music, I feel the old comfort that I used to feel…. even though I don’t even believe the words like I used to. Which makes it feel like the most powerful thing about those moments was the music.