Plankton Music

November 19, 2011 § 45 Comments

As a plankton – The Plankton – I don’t listen to music.  Almost never.  A commentator wrote yesterday that she had given up (in terms of finding someone, or even trying any more) but that music sometimes gives her joy.  The comment came when I had already thought about writing a post on the subject.  It’s killer.  I don’t like listening to it because it gives rise to searings which feel thwarted and dangerous.  It either flings me instantaneously back to the past and regrets, or it grabs be by the throat and squeezes my stomach and makes me want to dance and live and is too poignant for words.

Yesterday one of the children was playing one of my favourite songs loudly and it caught me unawares.  Happened to be something which always gets me; we all have those songs.  There are plenty of them.  As I heard it, I felt an awareness of life brimming inside me and felt it was poised all of a sudden to volcano out.  There was this heightened mingling in the uneasy present of the mixed past and the uncertain future.  A sense that I was locked into the confined walls of my house but what I unexpectedly wanted during that uneventful early evening flimflam moment, heart beating inordinately, was to drink and dance and move and talk and laugh and live dangerously and love someone, and yet there was no outlet then to do so.  There so rarely is.  As a young woman, there was a life lived to chime with the music listened to, edgily.  Sex and drugs and danger and immortality.

Today there is a different kind of danger.  And music makes you feel so many things and yet you can’t get to them, are no longer even sure you want them.  Instead, suburban feelings of fear and disappointment and lost hope and impending death stamp crushingly on the yearnings and hope and beams of life remaining within.  And certain bits of music make you feel this all the more than even you do when you are going about your daily dreariness, and it flails you.

That is why I don’t listen to music.  Times a plankton cannot afford to, for fear that it will dangerously derail her further, with promise and possibility which can most likely never be fulfilled.

§ 45 Responses to Plankton Music

  • Lydia says:

    Poor plankton. You are hurt because you love your ex husband and it’s almost like a form of post traumatic stress disorder. Time and peace and may be a bit of therapy or a love affair or even some sex would help.

    There is a patina of the past, a country where you would prefer to be, an emotional landscape with the supposedly God-like ex husband (about whom we don’t write) who probably in fact has feed of clay if we cared to look down. It was a past of pleasure and love.

    My own other country in my marriage in contrast was like the trenches of world war I, a place of acrimony and hurt and damage.

    So my 40s are wonderful happy and free and yours in almost exactly ths same place and age and stage aren’t.

    That would be my analysis.

    Music.. ah yes, something that is so much a part of every day for me. Every day I sing. Every day I play for the children. It is a huge part of pleasure. Join a choir. There are proven benefits in it:-

    1. You are with other people which tends to make most people happier
    2. The process taking the extra oxygen into the lungs tends to make people feel happier.

    What we don’t want even for plankton is a death of hope. There never need just be one love of a life. New love even in your 80s can be just as life enhancing.

    Lots of things can give us joy although from a moral point of view I am not sure that a search for joy and happiness is a good life aim. I never held much truck with that bit of the American thing – life and liberty are fine but the pursuit of happiness can be selfish aim.

    In fact in seeking to give joy you are more likely to be joyfui.

    • The Plankton says:

      Dear Lydia, Thanks for the advice re singing; sensible indeed, but I promise you I am not in love with my ex-husband. I am too in love with the idea of my next one. If I am lucky enough ever to have another one, and whomsoever he may turn out to be? Best, Px

  • ToneDeafSinger says:

    Dear Plankton
    I have not written to you before but today something happened that I would like to share and as I do not have my own blog, I hope you don’t mind if I take the liberty of writing it here.
    I bumped into an acquaintance in a coffee shop. I’ll call her Deb. She obviously did not recall that we’ve both been invited to the same party tonight. She enquired after my daughter, I said she is visiting her grandparents with her dad. Deb: So are you free tonight? Me: Yes I am free. Deb, looking sheepish: No I meant, I am actually doing something tonight, I meant whether you are looking forward to a nice evening on your own. Me: Actually we’re going to the same place tonight. Deb: Of course, of course.
    Note the words: Looking forward to a nice evening on my own.
    Now she may not have meant to be unkind, but if you’re 48 and divorced, is a nice evening on my own something to look forward to on a Saturday evening? Me, I prefer something a bit more exciting…

  • june says:

    Funny you should say that plankton, i often feel like that, i love music, but sometimes;listening to it as a plankton makes me feel so sad as it brings out longings and feelings which im not sure i can cope with, and the feeling i want to live more than i am.As usual your description so apt.

    I went to see La Boheme last night, the Glyndebourne Touring production, in modern dress and style which i enjoyed. I was very moved by the music, as was my friend and she said , god sometimes i think opera is b etter than sex, she is in a happy relationship!, in fact her kind partner took us and picked us up so she could have a drink. I told her i loved it to, but i wouldnt know about the sex bit!.

  • So “Your Song” is “Living in a Box”?

    You can’t deny the past…embrace it…you are THE PLANKTON…you have got this far…ROCK ON ….

  • rosie says:

    I love listening to music but like P says, that visceral pull is sometimes just too much to bear and I have to switch it off. After too much vino it’s even more dangerous. If only the Bardster had written ‘if music be the food of Plankenhood’….

    Oh, and I’m looking forward to (yet another) nice Saturday evening in on my own. Not.

  • Redbookish says:

    Ms p. you hit the nail on the head of the way music evokes visceral emotion. But I’ve found it doesn’t need to be connected to one’s relationships with others: you can have those feelings all about the simple fact that you are alive.

  • Gilmore Jones says:

    Dear Plankton

    Just a thought – after a while I realised what I was looking for was something to be better than my experience with my ex of 20 years and I have never found it. So it may not be that you are still in love with your ex, but you yearn for better to replace the hurt?

    My most plankton music moments are when I am so sad I have no-one to rock out to in the kitchen or share a bit of blues with when I’ve a glass of red in my hand whilst cooking dinner. So now I hardly listen to music in the kitchen.

    However I do go to a singing class and would heartily endorse it – better than yoga!

    Looking forward to the next instalment.

  • MissBates says:

    I think the reason I still enjoy attending musical events is that it is one of the few ways I can still “connect,” perhaps because I had formal music training about a hundred years ago and therefore it resonates. Who knows. In any event, even if I am moved to tears, it’s better than the pervasive numbness which seems to be my emotional lot these days. (Yes, I’m depressed, folks, and yes, I take something for it, thank you very much.) Having said that, I do understand how music can just be “too much” for a plankton to bear. (I prescribe some Bach — perhaps the Well-Tempered Clavier — in case you feel up to it one day….)

    • Elle says:

      MissBates, sorry to hear you’re depressed. I get down too but am fighting tooth and nail to stay off pills. The ones you’re on could well be drawing that grey veil of numbness between you and the world. Of course it’s best to consult with a doc before changing your routine, but there are some docs who aren’t as pill happy as others. They might recommend supplements, diet changes and exercise instead.

      • MissBates says:

        Hi Elle — Thanks for your kind words, but I am on a very carefully-calibrated low-dose of an anti-depressant which has been a lifesaver, and was prescribed by someone who is is not slaphappy with his prescription pad. Genetic disposition + circumstances = pharmaceutical intervention. (I was well beyond the help of dietary changes and holistic medicine. Things may be grey now; but they were quite black a couple of years ago!)

      • Jane says:

        Whilst I am aware that anti -depressants have recieved a bad press and are now seen as the awful ‘no way back’ slippery slope. There is another side to the story which I know from personal experience. When it comes to the point that all you can see and feel is misery and nothing but nothing lifts your spirits, when you feel that the best solution is to just not be around any more.When you walk round the supermarket crying your eyes out because there’s a sad song playing and buying cereal to feed your young children seems a pointless exercise, then you are clinically depressed. No amount of diet supplements, eating the right stuff or running round the block is going to drag you back from that and medical help and intervention in the form of drugs is the best course of action, it doesn’t have to be the road to chemical dependence, it can help to get you back to a level where you can then go on to cope on your own and see the joy in life again. No-one should beat themselves up because they are taking the ‘easy’ way out! there’s no such thing and ‘happy pills’ aren’t always the worst thing you can do

  • Elle says:

    I went to a concert of Jacques Brel songs recently with some female friends. They are married and I was the only plankton there. The show was brilliant but it ripped my soul to shreds. The sadness was later compounded when I found out that an ex was there with two, yes, two women. To their annoyance he got mouldy drunk and has been back on the sauce in a major way since.

    Music can derail you if you don’t compartmentaliseit. I have funky running music for my iPod, emotionally flat ambient music for chilling at home and of course the emotionally charged kind that Plankton speaks of. I avoid the last category entirely these days and will not go to a concert of Brel songs again unless I win the love lotto and have a partner. And I might play Marine Faithful’s “Lucy Jordan” on my birthday in December. It’s the ultimate plankton song.

    • june says:

      Elle strange you saying about “Lucy Jordan” being the ultimate plankton song, i always liked it a lot, i often find myself singing it, i always loved the line “she realised shed never ride through Paris in a sports car with the warm wind in her hair” Ive always loved Paris too, been loads times, mostly as a plankton by myself, which somehow dont really fancy anymore, I must try and get a cd with that song on,you never seem to hear it now on radio.

  • Jo says:

    I do understand the ‘quiet night in’ bit, when you have been run ragged seeing to the daily demands of one’s lovely kids. A bit of ‘me’ time, simple ‘quiet time’ can sometimes be delicious… Sometimes.
    Music? Music enhances life. The pleasure of simple, enjoyable life. And the privilege of being alive and witnessing nature, sunshine, golden autumn leaves, the smell of newly sprinkled rain in the air. Oh, so many things. Not solely attached to a man or a relationship… Just the pleasure of a great piece of music and shaking your booty in the kitchen for… Just for the sheer joy of it. Of life.

  • Geoffrey says:

    Plankton, Plankton, Plankton. I have been hanging on your every word for months and I thought we had so much in common and then you write this! I am with Jo – music is everything to me – does not matter how miserable I am, I can always pick something from the shelf that provides solace. And if I am already elated, something else will make it even better.

    I recommend Mozart, Chopin and Schubert – they died in their 30s before Planktonhood was even a possibility. That provides a useful perspective on life.

  • rosie says:

    Elle, I presume neither of these women knew of the other’s existence, or at the very least not that their opposite number would be there on the night? Otherwise there really is no fucking hope!

    I love Lucy Jordan.

    • Elle says:

      The women were from his sailing club. I think they both fancied him but he wasn’t bothered that night so he got drunk. Apparently he met some mates after and they went clubbing, chasing much younger women.

      • Jane says:

        And you had a relationship with this guy? Elle what were you thinking?

      • Elle says:

        Jane, I live in Dublin where good men are arguably harder to find than in the UK. There was chemistry and fireworks with this man but in hindsight little else. It was shortlived – March to August. I haven’t had a sniff of anything since and he gets two women from the sailing club fighting over him!

      • EmGee says:

        2 women fighting over a drunk at the sailing club? These 2 sound like women the rest of us don’t want to be – moneyed or not, this guy sounds like the dregs – and they are desperate enough to settle for him.

        Don’t second guess yourself Elle, you are better off than them (him included).

  • EmGee says:

    Ah music! I bought a ticket for a girlfriend (currently going through a divorce) and myself for and evening of spanish guitar, violin and sangria last night. The view was sweet!

    Music, I cannot imagine a life without it.

    Btw, why has our ‘feelgood’ culture gotten to the point where any feelings but good feelings must be banished? It’s unnatural to say the least; better to take the better with the bitter, or one will never learn to live life on life’s terms.

    Cheers Jo! Shake it!!!!!

    • Lizzie from Oz says:

      Yes – I agree I couldn’t live without music. But there is deinintely the chance that it will disintegrate the heart. All planktons’ hearts everywhere are fragile and in need of nurturing. The trouble is, while we are busy being brave and running here there and everywhere to cope with the structure of everyday life, there has to be some form of ‘inner peace’ in there somewhere, however small, just so that we don’t spiral down into that dark place. I have never fallen into the darkness, but I so so do understand those of us who have. It all just boils down to just needing someone to love us, that’s all.

    • Bambi says:

      Having read all 42 of the replies to this post, I feel that anything I have to say will hardly add to the subject…but, because music has played such an important part in my life – both before and since planktonhood – I cannot resist…

      Music has been my consolation when solace was needed, a source of immense joy just for its sheer beauty, the cause of tears of sadness when it has stirred painful memories and emotions; it has been a reason to share time and space in some of the most beautiful venues in the world with someone whom I have loved and lost and with others whom I might have loved in different ways – and with dear friends; it can make me feel variously, spiritual, sensual, connected, reckless, amused, introspective, contemplative, romantic, alive, positive, lonely…but, most importantly, it can make me FEEL….

      I am with Jo and Geoffrey and EmGee…. and anyone who cannot imagine life without music – and I particularly agree with EmGee’s comment – if we only allow ‘good’ feelings into our lives, we are much less…..’complete’…..

      So, yes, while listening to music can sometimes be dangerous, Plankton, and I myself have sometimes to ‘manage’ when or where or with whom I listen to certain music (still not great at Christmas carols in shops, so I know where Dan is coming from!), surely the ‘danger’ of the liklihood of unfulfilled promise and possibility is preferable to the total elimination of promise or possibility, whether likely to be fulfilled or unfulfilled…..

      I still hope, one day, to go to the opera in Verona in the company of someone I love. (If I go on my own, won’t I still have achieved my wish???!!!!)

      So… anyone for “What is life to me without thee”, then…or maybe try Shania Twain “Nah” (for the laugh :-)) ?!

  • Lydia says:

    One other issue is some people have been so hurt they prefer not to be hurt again. They reject all comers on all kinds of grounds because they don’t want to be hurt again. Others are of the better to love and be hurt than never love school of thought.

    You get the same issues with people sent to boarding school at 8 – those who loved them sent them away so they inure themselves to close emotional relationships and go through life with a hard carapace around them – I spoke to man I categorised as such today and I don’t think he could love in the way I need because of the trauma of his childhood.

    There is a myth these days that we should always be happy. It goes with “perfect life” television shows and the like. In fact feelings themselves are good and they may be sad or happy feelings (obviously clinical depression is a different issue which I’m not talking about here). Sometimes it does people good to listen to music and cry. In other words (and despite my usually happy as a sandboy pollyannaishness) nothing wrong with sometimes feeling sad.

    (I can think of nothing nicer on this planet than my lovely evening in with the family by the way, genuinely so.)

    • june says:

      Trouble is Lydia, i think as well as not being loved enough as a child, you can be loved too much,i think i was. My mum had 2 miscarriages before she had me and didnt think would ever have kids, but then i came along,very difficult birth etc, she almost didnt survive, but she did and because of this, i feel i was loved too much by my parents, so much i felt smothered and rather rejected any more love, i didnt need it, i had too damm much, hence my single status. However since my dad died last year and i now have little family i realise you can never have enough love, had my dad not lived so long, i guess i might have realised this sooner and looked for someone when i was younger and possibly more able to find somebody.

  • AMJ says:

    Portuguese has the word “saudade” to refer to an emotion not unlike what you describe is evoked by music – a nostalgic longing for an indefinable something that has gone, perhaps forever. It’s not the sole preserve of planktons, it’s part of the human psyche, to notice that something is missing, and to long for it. Everybody experiences it, and music, or any art, really, provides a particularly fast trip to its depths.
    Engagement with art always brings out saudade, and in the spirit of experiencing your humanity through art it is easy to separate it from one’s loneliness. How else would anyone know they are alive, and connected at the deepest level, to everything else? Rather than saying “music speaks of my loneliness,” try saying “music speaks of my sentience.”

  • submodal says:

    Hi Plankton, thanks for this post, I feel the same way about music. I don’t believe that this is because either you or I are still in love with our ex spouses. Music highlights the gaps in my life, that I can’t fill. I don’t long to be a 20 year old again, with mad parties and a manic social life. I do want to be able to share my life with others, and possibly a partner. As a plankton, I am invisible, people assume that I am content with my lot as a single almost 50 year old woman, and if I am not happy with it; really they would prefer it if I kept quiet. Like Tonedeafsinger, the expectation of others is that plankton stay out of the way of ‘normal’ life.

    I have raised my child as a single mother, and found that my experience of being plankton started then, I was invited to day time do’s with the children, but never to an evening or weekend event when husbands might be present. I wasn’t flattered that anyone might see me as a threat, just sad to be so obviously left out.

    However, like you Plankton, I refuse to be ignored, and to accept my lot. I have considered pink hair, but think that that is just attention seeking, and would look insane and menopausal!

  • submodal says:

    oh, and as for the pity expressed by others here, I don’t see you as ‘poor sad plankton still in love with your husband’ I think you are living your life and challenging the world that says women of a certain age should just sit quietly and accept that they are past it, Good on you. 🙂

  • DAN says:

    All of what you said was true plankton but these all the very reasons why you should listen to music !

    It makes you happy and sad, lively and at peace, brings back both good and bad memories , which all help with the greiving process of a broken marriage or relationship !

    So turn on that music and turn it up loud !

    Go through all these emotions, it will help you in the end , and you will find your self feeling all the better because of it.
    Otherwise you will only be running away from everything else as well, like that photograph, that home video, and will only miss out on one of the most wonderful things in the world ! Thats right ! MUSIC !


  • DAN says:

    I feel at the moment i must explain further my real true feelings in relation to music .
    Two years ago i took my youngest daughter to a concert to see celine dion (her favourate artist, and mine ) as a birthday present.
    Supporting celines concert were EL DIVO , my newest addition to the multitude of artists that i love listening to, from willie nelson to garth brooks, shania twain to pavarotti, domingus and carreras.
    From lady gaga to westlife, from sarah brighton to michael bolton to michael jackson etc….
    But to get to the point, this is my baby of three that are all now qualified and working as of next tuesday in the wembly stadium in london where she will graduate as a nurse.
    I should be the happiest man alive, but unfortunatly, i’m not as i am going to have to meet my seperateted wife who was also my best freind, lover and soulmate with the last 28 years.
    We’ve been seperated now for 18 months, and i am still in love with this woman and always will be !
    I had to make a choice 10 years ago between getting my children where they needed to be by not alone getting one extra job to fulfil there dreams but had to get 2, or to leave them find their own way in life and spend the time i had available with my wife!
    Already worked nites and ended up getting about 4 hours sleep every day, 7 days a week(so was never at home for my wife when she needed me) until next tuesday the 22nd to accomplish this!
    They wouldent have made it otherwise as they could not afford it.
    But all this came at a huge cost ! MY MARRIAGE !
    As i head into a second x-mas on my own its the only certain time of year that music will really effect me, and thats x-mas carrols, but i will still listen to and reminise about the last 28 years that i video taped every year everyone opening their presents, which i will never be able to do again.
    I will sit down again this year on x-mas day and watch all these tapes just like i did last year , but in the knowlodge that at least my 3 offspring
    have a great chance of making a better life for themselves because of what i have done.
    But again i will ask at what cost ?
    MY MARRIAGE to the most beutiful woman in the world , both internally and externally, and the greatest mother on this earth.
    So yes i will continue to listen to music as long as i can and while it might hurt , will still enjoy and remember all the special times in my life.
    From my daughters standing on my shoes when i thought them how to dance, to the special dances that i shared all through my marriage with my wife.
    So everybody listen to that music,turn it up loud and enjoy those very , very special memories!



  • DAN says:

    PS. Neglected to say have vidios also of every birth, birthday, christening, holy communion, confirmation,debs, and graduation, but most importantly the day of my marriage, and while i will remain on my own for the rest of my life i have good memories, and special moments that i can watch over and over again, and yes with backround MUSIC suitable for each and every occaision.
    I love it .


    • Elle says:

      Sorry to hear about your separation Dan. There are probably dozens of apparently single men like you on the scene giving planktons false hope while in reality you’re not emotionally ready to move on. WE end up thinking there’s something wrong with us when the problem isn’t us, but the poor chap whose heart is broken.

      So if your ex-wife hasn’t found

    • fi says:

      Filming the birth?

      • DAN says:

        Not the actual birth itself obviously fi, i was too busy at that stage holding my wifes hand and supporting her as i have for all my childrens births ! I meant directly afterwards when mum and baby were together for the first time in view .


  • rosie says:

    I’ve just learned (how did anyone know anything before the internet?) that Dr Hook first recorded Lucy Jordan, also great and also worth a listen. Don’t give up on music yet, P!

  • rosie says:

    And P, having just listened to it for the millionth time I’d recommend Still Caught Up by Millie Jackson. She has one of the most amazing voices ever and you might change your mind about marriage after listening to it… even if it is 30 odd years old!

  • Dawn says:

    I had to avoid pop music or any music with lyrics, really, for a while after my marriage ended. Every song is either ‘I love you more than life itself,’ or ‘I love you but you don’t love me,’ or ‘you love me but I don’t love you’… you get the picture. I concentrated on instrumental music and it seemed to help immeasurably. Life without music at all would be torture for me.

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