The Power of Music


The book Kafka on the Shore was lying on a table; my sister borrowed it and failed to put it back on the shelf.  I read it many years back and I have not flipped a page of the book again until last week.

Whenever I read books and find a nice part on a specific page, I usually fold a small corner of the page to mark it.  And when I saw the book, I decided to go back to some of the parts by reading a page that was dog-eared.  On that specific page, I found this:

“Um, Mr.  – Oshima?” Hoshino asked, looking at the nameplate on the counter.  “You know a lot about music, I can tell.”

Oshima smiled.  “Not a lot.  I just enjoy listening to it.”

“Do you think music has the power to change people?  Like you listen to a piece and go through some major change inside?”

Oshima nodded.  “Sure, that can happen.  We have an experience – like a chemical reaction – that transforms something inside us.  When we examine ourselves later on, we discover that all the standards we’ve lived by have shot up another notch and the world’s opened up in unexpected ways.  Yes, I’ve had that experience.  Not often, but it has happened.  It’s like falling in love.”

Hoshino had never fallen head over heels in love himself, but he went ahead and nodded anyway.  “That’s gotta be a very important thing, right?” he said.  “For our lives?”

“It is,” Oshima answered.  “Without those peak experiences our lives would be pretty dull and flat.  Berlioz put it this way:  A life without once reading Hamlet is like a life spent in a coal mine.”

“A coal mine?”

“Just typical nineteenth-century hyperbole.”

 ~  “Kafka on the Shore” by Haruki Murakami, p. 395


I surely have had that kind of experience with music on a number of occasions, but the biggest of them was when I attended my first live concert ten years ago.  At that time, I was in a dark place, trying to make sense of a world that had been disheveled by a whirlpool of tragic circumstances, which were beyond my control.  And then one unassuming night in December, music became the light that unexpectedly saved my soul.

I will not spill the details of that night just yet, probably on its 10th year anniversary. For now, I just want to share that passage from Kafka and to know if anybody out there has had the same experience as I did.  I am certain that there are, so I invite you to share your magical experience here.

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