I was sleepless through most of summer and not just because of the sweltering heat. Two friends died of Covid-19 and my short, voluntary career break seemed like a bad decision. A series of dark, sleepless nights passed before a music application suggested a solution. Songs were playing on the shuffle mode when Wallowa Lake Monster by American singer and composer Sufjan Stevens came on. You might know him for composing Mystery of Love – the anthem for the movie Call Me By Your Name.
I wouldn’t go as far as to say Wallowa Lake Monster cured my sleeplessness. But it was the perfect lullaby that eased me into sleep.
The song tells the tragic story of a mother as it draws parallels with a Biblical creature, the Leviathan, which sleeps deep inside a lake. It wasn’t the misfortune of the fictional characters that put me to sleep – I am certainly not morbid. It was the way in which the story was told, in a calm and a steady tone with dramatic instrumental interludes that blocked the anxiety in my mind.
The more I listened to the song, the more it grew on me. In one instance, it evoked childhood memories involving friends and a lake inside the campus of Shivaji University in my hometown, Kolhapur. We would cycle to its shore to enact stories. Our group of friends would participate in imaginary battles in which we would fight monsters and find portals to other unearthly dimensions.
As we grew up, these antics were replaced by sports. But the lake remained close to my heart. I read at the spot for hours during my teenage years, exploring the many mysteries of Agatha Christie and devouring most of the books in the Harry Potter series. I still make it a point to visit the lake.
Meanwhile, Wallowa Lake Monster has stayed with me for six months. It is still the most played song on my playlist and will likely remain there for a long time for the bits of comfort it has allowed my restless mind.
Read all the articles in the Comfort zone series here.