The Link-Up Spell: How music helped me survive the worst era in Venezuela
Has music helped you too? Let’s share our stories on how to overcome hardships in life with music and a good heart.
Greetings, fellow Toiletters. Before start the column today I need to warn you my intention is not to compare our hardships or issues. My goal today is warm us up in friendship around a bonfire, so I hope you find something good encapsulated over here and gather with our people in a positive manner.
Music, as for many of you, has accompanied me in every important or superfluous moment of my life. From the frivolous chords of simple beats to highly detailed sonic landscapes, my existence is always imprinted with some kind of soundtrack. In fact, and like I previously shared before in this digital subspace, my sensibilities toward music spawned when I was a kid and brought me to a very fun path of discovery, a never-ending adventure that I am very grateful and proud to bear.
But, in total honesty, my introduction to adulthood was particularly turbulent, like it probably was with many of you, and the energy I absorbed from music had to be employed more carefully. Happiness has not flown away from me during these last years, but reality sometimes hits us with a titanium hammer without mercy. Let me share with you this part of my story:
Welcome to Venezuela
Like I probably explained before to some of our readers, my country, like many other places in our world, is facing cruel times. The phantoms of egoism tainted our soil with blood, so, right now, Venezuela, once a blessed territory, is falling down slowly and painfully into a spiral of deception. And that, my friend, transforms all our life and expectations toward the present and future.
Before this storm obliterated these lands, our country was the destination of migrants and good-hearted people. For example, my hometown, located in one of the biggest oil producer states of the territory, became one of the welcoming areas for World War II refugees, and later a large group of Arabic, Latin American and Asian brothers and sisters. Before the dark claw of terrible, populist politics drained our instincts, my tiny city was an active center of cultural exchange and peaceful living. And like that, it happened in so many towns and cities all over the country.
However, we should not only blame the disastrous governments we have to endure; I think the people should bear some of the guilt as well.
The gradual economic failures around the final half of the last decade planted the seed of individualism in our culture’s heart. Instead of helping us to break the shackles of ferocious divisionism, we played the two-sided politicians game and we became so self-centered our country broke in half. Venezuelans erroneously learned that money and survival comes first, and many of them specialized in morally doubtful jobs, like food or gas smuggling. Meanwhile, all our life-quality measures dropped to breathtaking levels: health, education, personal security and the economy of our citizenry was the evident result of our crisis.
Here at the end of 2017, a large number of Venezuelans are outspokenly disappointed by our current status. In my state, many of the public and private health centers are empty of medicines or equipment; crime rates are still supremely high; public universities are most of the time in strikes for better salaries; food, gas and goods shortages persist; unexpected electricity blackouts sometimes burn domestic electronics; public transport is expensive and hsd practically collapsed; there is a shortage of cash… At the same time, our currency went into hyperinflation for the first time, which means the debacle will just leave profound scars on many of us, working just to eat, and nothing else.
My wife and I are both professional, young and healthy persons, and I do not consider myself as having a bad life, but our road to adulthood was accompanied with this contaminated panorama. On the other side, we have close family that are having a really hard year with the weekly prices increasing in everything. We are helping some of them from time to time with food and money, but the final half of this year has been merciless to all of us, without contemplation. I even dare to say that some of them barely have one meal per day, and they are starting to feel the symptoms of starving, and that, my friends, is not a pleasant thing to see.
It’s evident we do not have high hopes right now. Next year’s economic predictions are somber, and my country will stay in this state for a long while… Having entered into hyperinflation means that more people will suffer for not having the chance to buy food or medication. Also, so many young persons are immigrating to other countries to gain money in a better currency in order to send it to their families over here and help with the expenses, which means our job force is not over here to repair the economy and that our population consists of elderly people who cannot leave the country.
In fact, like many of those migrants, I resolved to leave Venezuela next year and find new adventures in another country, and, for the first time in months, this project reignited that youthful passion that secures me a tiny dose of optimism in the face of of this hard reality.
The spirit of music accompanies me
Some of my friends in other countries ask me how I can maintain a high resilience when this crisis suffocates us. The truth is I only concentrate on the good aspects and see the bad things in life as obstacles to fight, and music helped me to discover this.
When I started to get more into extreme music, melodic death metal became some sort of an obsession for me (and still is one of my favorite styles!). The key aspect that piqued my curiosity about it was how simple and polarized it sounded when I tried to understand the core sound. The down tuned guitars and the dark imagery is in a constant clash with the emotive leading melodies, so the high contrast between the beautiful and the ugly was something that inspired me so many times to bisect the good and the bad of life, so I tend to listen to this music in an introspective mood.
Dichotomy, sometimes, comes at the risk of simplification and could be a tool that makes us think in terms of limitations. But, this thought process also helped me to find alternative ways to overcome difficulties. In a lot of cases, hardship in life blind us and induce us to just avoid conflict or directly fighting against it; however, the solution is in our hands and we need to move and confront ourselves or the world. Like my mom always tells me, “Everything in this life has a solution, except death.”
Of course, I also find very useful the energetic injections of traditional, power, folk and death metal. Many ass-kicking records out there with speed, great vocals lines and soaring guitar leads put me in a conquering mood that make me forget for a while the deceptive ambiance around me. Also, I have always thrived on introspection and calmness to overcome my low energy days. Neofolk, video game soundtracks, dungeon synth, black, doom and progressive metal are on high rotation when I need to restore my magical flow. All of these artists, bands, records and concepts are always in high regard for giving me the chance to think and make me construct a better reality for myself, and therefore for my family.
I suppose I tend to not employ these tools as simple escapism, since this hostile ambiance pushes me to go out and, at least, try to fight against all the odds. If I stay quiet, I perish, and with that, my beloved ones will fall too. In these moments, we need to stay knightly together and willing to accept the violent turns of life as natural signs of our humane experience on Earth.
For me, music, as a whole, recharged me so many times during these last two years, and it is great to have in hand my favorite records and listen to them over and over again. Music teaches me new ways to defend myself from my fears and anxieties. And, even when I am not a musician, I can absorb all the different vibes the artists inked into their products with passion.
For all of that, I will always be grateful, forever.
What about you, fellow magicians? Share with us your stories about how music has helped you to overcome the hard parts of your life. Remember to read our brothers and sisters stories with mental illness in this great article by Decapitron, too! I am more than eager to know more about you! Plenty of good vibes for all.
The Link-Up Spell is a weekly Toilet ov Hell column about music, movies, books, retro video games and guaranteed Elfic nonsense. If you want to contact the author to send your material, mail us at toiletovhell [at] gmail.com with the subject “The Link-Up Spell” or message him on social media.
Photo cover: VÍA