How Music Saved My Life

When surrounded by darkness, it is nearly impossible to remember what the light looks like. Walking around aimlessly, trying to find some semblance of a glow, but in the end there is simply dark. In these moments, it is hard to remember how to fight, how to survive, how to live. I was sixteen years old, merely a junior in high school, when I was forced into darkness. I found myself tripping over my own feet, stumbling to find my way, unsure of where I was or where I was going. In the simplicity of one day, my world was ripped out from under me, as mundane as a tripping on an untied shoelace. It was a normal day, it was a good day, and then it was dark.

It was around 2:30pm when the fire alarm went off. My friends filed out the door, I remained sitting in my seat, trying to get done some assignment that has now been long forgotten. Concentration was soon broken by the sound of three gunshots. Everyone rushed to get into the room, a code red announcement made only minutes after. I don’t remember many details about that day. I don’t remember the specifics, the words said, the spaces in between. I remember the events, the order they happened in, and the way it all felt. I remember getting home, not being able to do anything, not wanting to do anything except listen to one song. Cigarette Daydreams by Cage the Elephant. I listened to it on repeat the whole night, the next day, the week following. I found support through the lyrics, a safe place in the melody.

The thing about trauma is that time passes even if you’re still frozen. I was frozen in the dark. All I could feel was helplessness, sadness, anger, despair. I had too many emotions turning inside of me, I didn’t know how to handle it. But then, my friend, Andrea Pena, asked if I wanted to write a song and I said yes. A simple question that ended up saving my life, showing me the light. We got together and wrote everything we were feeling into a song. From this, Shine was born. We had the opportunity to share the song with our community, in hopes that it would provide to them what it gave to us; Hope. I didn’t really understand the impact the song had on our community until now, years later. Shine showed me how powerful music is, how it can move people and heal them.

From Shine, I was introduced to music therapy. Before what happened, I never knew how powerful music could be. How it could provide comfort for things that seemed beyond repair. Now I believe, I know, that music is one of the most powerful forces in the world. It can heal, comfort, support, love. Because of Shine, I was able to see firsthand the power of music. Now, because of it, I want to learn so I can give back what Shine gave me; A way to find the light inside the dark.


Sawyer Garrity

Music Therapy Student

University of Miami, Frost School of Music


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The starry night. Elements of this image furnished by NASA.[/caption]