Today I had something of an epiphany. I’ve been struggling with existential dread for some time. The last 6 months or so especially. There’s been a nagging voice at the back of my head that won’t let me forget that I’m going to die one day. That everything I experience, everything I love, everything that brings me any joy will be gone. That I will cease to exist and stop experiencing existence.

And obviously that’s all true. It’s a basic fact of life. But I hate it. I haven’t got an afterlife to look forward to. No heaven awaits me. It’s just not part of my belief system, or lack thereof. For me death is an inescapable end to all things and yes, that’s fucking terrifying.

What do you do in the face of your own inevitable mortality? I’m sure much more eloquent people have examined this in better ways than I can. I’m not especially good at laying my thoughts down. I get distracted easily, go on tangents, run off with other ideas etc. Anyway…

Something stopped me today, stopped me right in my tracks and gave me pause.

I listened to music again. For the first time in nearly 18 months I just listened to music. And it washed my dread away. Now I still know that I’m mortal, that my life is finite, but those few minutes of just listening reminded me of something I’d lost in the pandemic. Music.

The elation it brings me, the way it energizes me, the vibration in my soul that bubbles up from my feet through my skull and the urge to move to it.

The pandemic stole music from me. Because I used to listen to it as a way to block out the world around me, from the door step to the office and back again I’d have headphones on.

I’m autistic, I have some quite severe sensory sensitivity issues around ‘unwanted sound’, also known as Misophonia. And my coping mechanism was putting on a big ol’ pair of headphones and playing loud music all day to cope with being on a bus or in the office. But I’ve been working from home for nearly two years now and I thought I didn’t need music because I wasn’t in a loud office or on a crowded bus. I was wrong.

I underestimated what that music was giving me. It wasn’t just helping me cope by blocking out unwanted sensory input. It was powering me. Winding up my springs like a goddamn autistic tigger and letting me bounce off the walls of my own existential dread.

And fuck. I’ve missed it. I need it. I’m so fucking glad to have it back. And I’ll be hanging on to it this time.

  • Nick