For me, one of the casualties of the pandemic has been listening to music. As the din of the media became louder and singularly focused on case counts, deaths, and vaccinations, I turned off the feeds. All of them. I sought stillness and silence. I needed to do a brain cleanse as one might fast to detoxify the body. Long car rides were executed in silence. Cooking, kitchen puttering and exercise routines were accompanied only by my breathing and selfchatter: sometimes out loud, more often in my head. I was unaware of the seeping away of the vibrancy and joy that music infused within me.

As the world unlocks and we dabble in the new and old normals, I am conscious of what was lost, abandoned or misplaced over the past 18 months. I now have the option of choosing what to resume, what to discard, what to start for the first time.

I am discarding most animal protein from my diet. I am discarding forever my bi-weekly shellac manicures. I am starting a regular yoga practice. Shockingly, I am starting to enjoy two to three golf games each week. I’m starting to care less about how my home looks, and more about the people and energy within. And I am resuming my love affair with music.

This past Saturday evening, after dinner and the cleanup, we sat with friends talking about musicians and favourite songs. Before long the Ipad was out and we were factchecking recollections of song titles and artists. The energy built as we began to play some favourites. The quiet lakeside evening gradually transformed into a guided, sometimes competitive, tour of music videos. The volume increased, there was occasional dancing, and moments of stillness and awe at the talent and power of the music. Each “last one” was followed by “just one more.”

Finally silenced and somewhat satiated from the lyrical binge, we ended the concert close to midnight.

I had forgotten the gifts bestowed upon me by music. The ability of a familiar song to shift my mood: to make me smile, inside and out. The potential of a particular set of lyrics to transport me to a moment, to a room, to a friend from a long time ago. As the lines came out of my mouth, memorized and unconsciously repeated, my thoughts were at my childhood cottage. The dark panelled walls, orange blinds keeping out the hot afternoon sun, faded braid rug, and small red batteryoperated record player turning the vinyl. We’re seated across from each other, the crib board between us, laying our cards down and counting our scores silently as we sing to Dear Prudence from the Beatles White Album. It’s 50 years agoand as clear as yesterday.

I can’t help but dance when I hear certain songs. The surge of energy is too much to bear in stillness. The joy and abandonment of dancing is an opportunity to play like a child. No rules: sing as loud as you want, move as much as you feel. Precious freedoms. Ageless pleasures.

On my drive to the golf course this morning, I turned on the car radio. A solo sing-along to a tune from my 20 years ago took me out of the ruminations about calls to be returned, drawers to tidy, and whether or not I could hit the ball off the tee. None of it mattered.

I am bringing music back into my life. I am seeking its gifts of energy, mind vacations and emotional shifts.

At least, that is my experience.