A Hopeful Tune
‘Tis the time of year for giving gifts and being grateful. It is, too, a time for hope. Which begs the question: what gives us hope?
Last night was the eighth night of Hanukkah. One by one, my husband lit the candles. Then we did something that has long been for me a sweet symbol of the holiday season: we sang. We were only two voices united in a brief tune. But still, that little song gave me hope.
Musical memories spark broader neural pathways than other types of memories. It’s why when you hear a specific song, your heart hops, your brain engages, and pictures pop into your head. My memory sees the vendor selling walnuts on the corner of 52nd Street and Fifth Avenue, Christmas music pouring from his speakers. It recalls my high school girlfriends caroling. It brings to mind the living room of my childhood home on Long Island, “Silent Night” playing, ornaments glistening, a fire flickering in the fireplace.
Singing heals us. It keeps the brain on its toes, too. Memorizing words to a song is a left-brain function; music is a right-brain function. When you do both, your brain exercises in symmetry. The central nervous system explodes with hormones and does a dance with the opiate receptors in the brain. The body rejoices.
That’s my wish for you this season: that even if you believe you have the voice of a wounded frog, sing. If you have a melodic voice, give listeners the blessing of a song. It will lift the hearts of others – and lift yours as well.
And it will give all of us a lilting moment of hope.
(That’s your prompt this week: sing! Write about why you selected that particular song, and what memories are attached to it.)