“You opiate this hazy head of mine, cos you’re my medicine.”

When travel gets difficult, when life get’s difficult, when the world gets difficult I turn to music. And I love the fact that I am not the only one. Music can unify us in solidarity, it can tear us apart individually, it can speak to just a few or a stadium full of people but it will always get the heartbeat of humanity pumping in unison. We have seen evidence of that very recently in Manchester.

Music has been my lifeblood ever since I was a child and would fall asleep listening to my dad playing the Beatles or Vivaldi on the LP player. My mum would listen to Abba as my sister and I were fascinated by the sound of the scratches. Tapes that would go “wowwy” in the car and then CDs that my sister would torture to within an inch of their lives. And finally on to the digital age and my unfortunate relationship with iPods in which I manage to break and dismember them in many imaginative and yet completely accidental ways. Music has always been there and I hope it always will be

Without music I wouldn’t have gone travelling.

This is not an exaggeration.

Several songs (From many sources) convinced me to take the plunge and so many have inspired blogs and their titles as I’m sure you have all noticed by now. I even carry some lyrics around with me to boost my confidence (along with some inspirational quotes from a much missed friend). Without these I would not have set off and i would certainly not still be going.

Vietnam is proving to be such an emotional rollercoaster (along with events back home which the world is involved with) that music is the perfect accompaniment. And some days I honestly think I may have boarded a plane home without the encouragement it has given to me. I can celebrate a small success by blasting a high tempo rock track, I can wallow in how much I miss Peter with a slow folk song and I can grieve alongside a friend in the loss of their soul mate, unified in the power of a track that holds memories and the title of this blog.

Music is my medicine, and many other peoples too.

Watching a massive crowd chant the lyrics to a song in memory of those that lost their lives in the recent terror attacks is an overwhelming thing. But it brought people together, raised money, unified us in our grief and ensured that we stood up against such atrocities. And that show of solidarity to a background of instruments and vocals is such a powerful thing.

I have even found it to be a unifying experience within my work at the zoo. The language barrier is such a huge problem but music thrums through every language imaginable. I’ve heard keepers singing during their breaks and we’ve all had a few little dances to some extremely diverse Vietnamese dance tracks (when the heat is not too intense). I don’t speak their language and they struggle with mine but we can all find enjoyment in the universal language of music. And what a fabulous thing that is.

For those needing inspiration for a big step, whether that step is travel, a challenging change, or even the courage needed to remain the same, I urge you to seek it out in music. And then take it with you. It can comfort you in your darkest hour, take you back to an ocean of memories,  surge you forward despite the setbacks and coax you further than you ever thought possible. And those songs, the lyrics and melodies and beats will forever live, synced perfectly with a lifetime of scenes from your life. Write down the lyrics and find their meaning in the experiences around you. Some songs that I have been listening to for years developed different meanings as I listened to them in exotic environments. And the comfort found in a favourite song, enjoyed in an unfamiliar situation is such a soothing feeling.

Whatever your taste or passion in musical genre I hope there are at least a few songs in your life that have the power to shake you to your very core and leave your reeling once the last note has faded. So go ahead, hit play and see where it might take you.

Dedicated to Bruno.

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