A "What Do You Believe?" essay by Jessica Isgro
Innate in every human being, in every capable mind, in every soul creative or not, is the ability to travel through time. The method of travel is simple - no complicated astrophysics, chrome-coated machinery, or multi-variable equations. Rather, this travel is powered by the most primal form of expression: I believe in the power to travel through music.
Music has the power to join worlds separated by distance and decades, by cultures and continents. Within music there is the ability to blend memory with sensory and bring savored moments from past to present. Strong, but unassuming, its power never eluded me. But it wasn't until my freshman year of high school that I watched it work its magic on others.
My grandfather was depressed while recovering from heart surgery. I knew a different grandpa, the Vincenzo who, at age 86, played in his garden and chased his dog. This man still existed - I just had to find him.
The freedom to go where I pleased always lifted my spirits. If I were confined to bed with a cold, I'd grab my iPod and take a trip. I'd backpack through Europe, go to Coney Island, visit myself 50 years from now, or go back to my childhood. No matter how physically attached to one location I became, there was always a way to escape.
Thus my mother and I planned a voyage for my grandfather. We decided to send him back to his home in Italy, a house with a backyard full of chickens and a kitchen full of family.
The Italy we wanted to send him back to existed 80 years ago. Instead of a plane ticket and suitcase, we purchased a CD player and created a list of songs; each flooded our senses with the sound of beautiful memories.
Our part was done, and all that was left was for my grandfather to let the CD play. As he listened to the music, everything changed. The sterile hospital room felt warm and inviting, the smell of antiseptic melded into that of Sunday dinner, the sunlight was tinted with sepia, and the threads of time seemed to crumble under each song.
I watched as my grandfather learned to travel through time the same way I had. I saw him eating meals with his siblings, cooking with his mother, planting tomatoes in his backyard. As I heard him sing along to Volare, he smiled heartily, and I knew he understood the power music held.
Music is an ever-evolving constant, a paradox from its creation. I live my life transported through its power - from frequent trips to Italy with Scarlatti or a Parisian excursion with Debussy, to the culture shock of current-day Los Angeles with Ke$ha or a more relaxed England with Adele - to places I've only dreamed of being. But every now and then, I let it take me somewhere I never knew existed. And when I turn the music off and return home, it's as if I haven't missed a moment.