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Music and MS: Going beyond the meme

By Dan Digmann

Social media is flooded with images featuring inspirational and motivational messages ready to quickly share with our families, friends, and distant acquaintances we barely remember how we’re connected in the first place.

Whether it was through a meme, gif, photo, or video, whatever we saw as we scrolled through our newsfeeds made us pause and find some level of positivity. Sometimes these few words are all we need to give us the strength and hope we need to rise above the anxiety or adversity weighing heavily on our minds or in our hearts. So, we share these as our discreet way of paying it forward.

Such messages truly have helped me see the forest through the trees, put things into perspective, count my blessings, and keep a stiff upper lip (or, insert your favorite cliché here). But in living with multiple sclerosis for more than 22 years, I’ve found I need more than just general free-for-all words of inspiration that are intended for the masses. 
I need words that speak specifically to me and are infused with the one-two punch of music. 

I’m all for finding motivation on social media, but here is something for you to consider: What music do you listen to, and what songs do you enjoy? Why do you enjoy them? Perhaps it’s the melody. The drive of the drum. The pictures the lyrics paint. The story it tells. The happiness it brings. The tears it incites.

Something I’ve taken the time to do is develop a list of song lyrics that have helped me cope with my MS. And when I need inspiration in dealing with the disease, I review the list and find the lines I need to hear that given day, and boom. I go and listen to this song du jour really, really loud (and repeat as necessary).

What is special about this is it’s a list all my own and the song is speaking only to me when I need to hear it. Yes, anybody can listen to the song, but I am hearing what I need to hear at that very moment.

People who know me figure that most of my list would be songs from Bruce Springsteen. They definitely are on the right track, but my MS-related music ventures beyond The Boss. Here’s a sample (okay, I have to include one from Springsteen!):

“Bravery, my neighbor, moved away.
Cause I don’t need to be courageous today.”
- O.A.R., “Heard the World”

“But we persevere, God gives us hope
But we still fear what we don’t know
The mind is poison.”
- The Killers, “A Dustland Fairytale”

“Come good days and bad days the sun’s gonna rise
So why look beyond what’s in front of your eyes.”
- Clint Black, “Life Gets Away”

“Leave behind your sorrows
Let this day be the last
Tomorrow there’ll be sunshine
And all this darkness past
Well, big wheels roll through fields where sunlight streams
Meet me in a land of hope and dreams.”
- Bruce Springsteen, “Land of Hope and Dreams”

Again, these are from the songs that inspire me in rising above MS. How about you? What music and lyrics would make your list of your motivational MS messages? 

Give it a try and use it the next time you need empowerment, comfort and encouragement in dealing with this disease. Just like MS affects everyone differently, this will offer you an inspiration all your own.