In ridiculously busy times I now find myself very deliberately setting specific periods of time aside to listen to specific pieces of music. The temptation is to continue getting on with unfortunately necessary stuff and just have music as background, but that doesn't work for me these days. So I abandon the very idea of listening, except, as I said, for selected pieces and to these I listen hard and fast, refusing to think about what I really should be doing - but only for those few minutes of time deliberately set aside. I'm talking about real planning here, involving actually writing down my intentions, almost to-do list fashion, odd as that may sound. Sounds a bit weird, I know, but all I can say is, it works for me.
And it worked in a particularly big way last Sunday when I carved out a few minutes more than an hour early in the day, when I really should have been doing something else, to listen to the second CD of my 2 CD set of RVW's Pilgrim's Progress. This segment of the opera begins with the Vanity Fair episode and takes us, via Pilgrim in prison, up the Delectable Mountains and to within sight of the Celestial City. I'm not quite sure why, but I really did get taken to another place on this listening, a sort of version of English Pastoral, entirely of the imagination, but entirely real and entirely wonderful.
I don't think I've ever felt quite so refreshed by a musical experience as I did that morning, as if I had sojourned in the foothills of paradise along with Pilgrim. Somehow the weight of the day's work that came after felt not exactly lighter but easier to bear.