Self-Care n’ Stuff: Tunnel Songs

As a person who struggles with mental illness, it’s been really important to me over the last couple of years to really focus on getting better, and getting better at taking care of myself. Self-care is a really weird thing, because it looks different for every single person. Some things may help some people to relax and rest, while for others, the same thing might cause them more stress. The best example of this is colouring. Colouring is my jam. But there are tonnes of people who really can’t deal with it.

After thinking more about this, I thought I would start a new segment on the blog, all about how I practice self-care. These tips may be helpful to you, or someone you love! I’m also open to self-care activity suggestions from YOU! Feel free to let me know about something you think I should try, as a part of my self-care routine. The jury’s still out on a name… Self-Care Secrets??? Self-Care Strategies??? Selfie-Care??? The possibilities are endless.

Today’s post is about music. If you know me at all, you’ll know that music has always been a huge part of my life, as it is I’m sure for many of you. My family is full of musicians and performers. A favourite teacher in highschool noticed how easily distracted I got while doing seatwork or writing tests, so he told me that I could start bringing my iPod to class. It helped SO MUCH (I highly suggest trying this strategy out, if you’re a person with difficulty focusing on a specific task). When I was in university, I always needed a playlist to help me focus on writing or studying.

What I love best about music is how it makes me feel. You know that thing? The thing. That feeling in your chest when you hear that song, and you absolutely couldn’t explain the feeling to someone else, even if you tried/wanted to? I love that. I chase that. I play songs to death, and then play them again.

One of the best ways I’ve ever heard this particular feeling described, is in one of my absolute favourite books/movies: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (who also directed and wrote the film). If you haven’t read or watched Perks, then you need to close this ‘lil window, and get on that. It’s on Netflix. It’s criminally underrated, with not a single nomination during its corresponding awards season. I’m still a little salty about it. And I promise you it will be a great film. Also Logan Lerman and Emma Watson. And a dope soundtrack. So go. Watch. Learn, Padawan.

Just a wee warning: the movie deals heavily with mental illness, suicidal thoughts and attempts, child abuse, sexual abuse, domestic abuse, and other subjects that you may find yourself triggered by. Please proceed with caution.

There’s this part in the book/movie where our hero Charlie is riding in the car with his friends. They drive through a tunnel, and Emma Watson’s ‘Sam’ climbs into the bed of the pickup truck and throws her head back, and hands up in the air, as her step-brother Patrick (played by Ezra Miller) turns up the truck radio beyond it’s bearable listening capacity. The song is David Bowie’s ‘Heroes’. Just as we reach the climax of the song, the three friends emerge from the tunnel onto a bridge, to a stunning view of city lights, and feelings of rightness in the world.

For the majority of the book, Charlie tries to figure out what the song was that they were listening to during that moment. Not one of them knew the title of the song, so they always just refer to it as the “Tunnel Song”. The book is set in the early 1990’s, so easy access to musicians’ entire music catalogues is definitely not a thing. For Charlie, finding the song will help him to recreate the “rightness” that he felt in that moment, in the tunnel with Sam and Patrick; and that, my friends, is that feeling that I’m talking about.

After the crux of the narrative and conflict is concluded and and resolved, Sam places a cassette tape on the burger joint table, and declares that she found the Tunnel Song. Charlie has another moment with Sam and Patrick in the tunnel. Only this time, it’s Charlie’s turn to throw his hands up and scream into the void, from the bed of the pickup truck. This is a moment of triumph and wellness, and love. Leading up to this moment, Logan Lerman as Charlie delivers an incredible monologue that concludes the film and book perfectly. It tells us that Charlie is going to be okay. It tells us that we’re going to be okay.

Here is that incredible scene

I don’t know if I will have the time to write anymore letters
Because I might be too busy trying to participate.
So if this does end up being the last letter,
I just want you to know that I was in a bad place before I started high school
And you helped me.
Even if you didn’t know what I was talking about
Or know someone who’s gone through it.
You made me not feel alone.
Because I know there are people who say all these things don’t happen.
And there are people who forget what it’s like to be sixteen when they turn seventeen.
And know these will all be stories someday
And our pictures will become old photographs
And we’ll all become somebody’s mom or dad.
But right now these moments are not stories.
This is happening.
I am here and I am looking at her
And she is so beautiful.
I can see it.
This one moment when you know you’re not a sad story,
You are alive.
And you stand up and see the lights on buildings
And everything that makes you wonder,
When you were listening to that song
On that drive with the people you love most in this world.
And in this moment, I swear, we are infinite.

So, I’ve put together a playlist of songs that give me tunnel feels. Some of them are happy. Some of them are sad. But here they are.

Love Always,
Emma Cate

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