Self-care is at the core of humanity. While it has become a prominent buzzword in recent years, the basic methods of self-care — breathing, hunting for food, and finding shelter — have been the basis for the prolonged existence of the human race. As we evolved, so did our ability to take care of ourselves, in both exponentially healthy and potentially toxic ways. As we explore and experiment, we find and gravitate to different methods to take care of our physical and mental health — exercise, drugs, food, sports, religion, therapy, alcohol, careers, art, friends, family. …

The passage of time is too surreal to be reality. The subtle and idiosyncratic changes to the skin on our body, the gradual molding and hardening of the creases on our brain, the cultural patterns and social mores that configure and break apart the identity of our society, and the indescribable auras that blossom and perish with each life stage all knock us off our feet as we try to conceptualize the mind-shattering and devastating experience of flux. …

We worship the youth. Whether it be worldwide fanaticism over the next teen pop star, adoration of university grad programmers over experienced tech workers, or the prevalence of plastic surgery to maintain an image of immortality, we as a society put youthfulness on a pedestal while simultaneously shaming the natural and wholesome process of aging. This ageism has been rampant in hip-hop, an art form that has long been seen as an exclusively young person’s game. …

Solitude has a stigma. Our society harshly judges a solo life in any capacity — from the simple decisions of attending a movie alone to the major life choices of not getting married. When we see people alone, we may think they are antisocial, defective, or even criminal in nature. This toxic judgement prevents us from deepening our relationship with ourselves and our brains. Without a sense of conviction in our solitude, we cannot be fully at peace with ourselves and our place in the world. It is only with a deeper sense of freedom in our solitary experiences that our relationships, goals, and health can fully blossom. …

Emotions are not for the faint of heart. We live in a world that pushes eternal positivity and shames those who sometimes feel otherwise. Yet we can not enjoy the euphoria of new experiences, the passion of artistic interests, or the peace of exploring spiritual pursuits, without bracing for the negative emotions that exist on the other side of the psychological coin. We are all susceptible to this darkness — the anxiety that blindsides us and suffocates our mind, the depression that soaks the color out and turns off all the lights around us, the heartbreak that plunges us underwater, or the existential dread that leaves us questioning both our self-worth and the meaning of humanity’s existence. Attempting to grapple with and navigate this emotional landmine can be near-impossible. …

The idea of being reborn is fundamental to almost all major religions. In Christianity, one is reborn and starts a new life once they repent for their sins and profess a life for Jesus Christ. In Hinduism, people are literally reincarnated after they die, an experience known as Samsara — the cycle of life and death; this cycle repeats until one reaches Moksha, eternal salvation and peace with God. In Buddhism, people reach the enlightened state of Nirvana and are internally reborn after years or decades of dedicated meditation. Even for the non-religious, this idea of starting anew is profoundly encouraging, especially in times of prolonged darkness and hopelessness. …

We search for meaning. The quest to make our life matter is fundamental to human nature. Despite the universality of this pursuit, it can materialize in so many different ways. We may feel like we matter when we provide for our family. We may feel like we matter when we work on projects we care about. We may feel like we matter when we indulge in our vices. We may feel like we matter when we earn money and accolades. More than anything, we feel like we matter when our actions align with our values.

But when we lose the things that matter the most, it blindsides us and we have no choice but to reorient our values. The shiny and glittery things of the world suddenly seem hollow and gray, and the previously boring mundane moments become drenched with meaning. Noname examines this existential shift on “Yesterday”, the opener off her contemplative and gorgeous debut mixtape Telefone, as she searches for her soul in the wake of lost ones. …

Activism emerges in many forms. We may think it manifests solely as widespread protests and movements, as these have often been the most effective and noticeable avenues to promote change. Yet it can come in subtler, more introverted, and more avant-garde ways. If the internal fire exists to improve the world, the creativity of execution can explode in a myriad of routes — non-profits, technology companies, charity donations, lifestyle changes, and artistic endeavors. Kendrick Lamar takes the latter approach on the stunning opener from his debut album Section.80, …

Kids need heroes. Yet to find these heroes, there needs to be something that sparks youthful joy and inspiration. For many, music is this catalyst for discovering heroes. Music creates in us a visceral, empathetic, and emotional experience that is truly difficult to express in words. The emotions of life can often be too overwhelming and confusing to articulate, especially when as a kid you haven’t developed the capability to express these emotions. Music comes along and it’s like finding air after being submerged underwater — a piece of art somehow perfectly captures the mood and themes of how you’ve been feeling and for a moment you feel whole again. You come to idolize these artists, for better or worse, for finding a way to save you. …

We are terrified of getting older. As we grow up, the responsibilities and worries often grow with us, and the potential for cynicism becomes easier each day. If we can keep this cynicism at bay, growing up can bring deeper mental clarity, greater self-acceptance, and more opportunities to start providing value to the world around us. As time’s arrow moves us forward, we have the ability and choice to become bitter or become better. In a perfect world, we end up in the latter, and in a disillusioned world, we end up in the former. Many of us, as we are figuring this life out, end up somewhere more in the middle, teetering the tightrope of optimism and pessimism. …

About

Mohith Subbarao

I like to write about music

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