Last night right before I went to sleep I was thinking about how to retrieve the good from amidst the bad. How do I “redeem” good experiences and memories of them from amidst the memories of experiences that harmed me? I tried to find articles online that might reveal findings from research done on this topic. I only found material regarding retrieving traumatic memories. Not helpful.
I finally gave up and decided to pick one piece of music I really like that had been introduced to me by the man who abused me. I listened to it and focused my thoughts on what I like about it. I claimed the music for myself. In the past I would have just shied away from anything that reminded me of him. But there’s too much of my life that gets thrown away along with the bad or hurtful So I listened with analytical ears. Then I listened again with my heart and focused on myself liking what I heard. Then I listened a third time and just relaxed into enjoying the moment. Then I played it yet again as I fell asleep.
This exercise in sifting and retrieving helped me greatly for reclaiming that music as mine, regifted from me to myself as it were. But the best part is how I dreamed and what I heard when waking. I dreamnt about my years in college and many of my public performances of various works. Then in my dream it was as if time fast-forwarded. I was looking at a piece I wanted to learn, and I was telling a colleague I can do this. Then I started to play it.
The amazingly, profoundly beautiful thing about it was that in my dream I was playing Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in E Minor which, in real life I really have wanted to learn but never studied, although I’ve listened to it a great deal and looked at the score. It amazes me that so much of the work was retained in my mind just from focused listening. I don’t think of my memorization skills as very good. I’ve always had to “work hard” to analyse a work, make sense of it to my heart and fingers as well as my mind, and then practice it a gazillion times for it to become reliably retrievable memory.
What I take away from this dream experience is not that I think I could now play that Concerto, but that my subconscious gave me the message “I can do this,” and then showed me a way. My deep self showed me I have treasures to retrieve, and that I can indeed retrieve them. Now it’s true that the Chopin Concerto is not one that needed to be redeemed from that earlier era of trauma, but it does represent one of my worlds that is truly mine and that I too often neglect.
There are so many angles from which I could explore this further. But I share it here now because I feel hopeful about myself and my capacity to guide my mind the way I want. For me, one of the most important needs I have, as a human, is to have hope. And to find a sense of confident hope deep down within my own self is immensely life-giving.
I’m currently listening to Krystian Zimmerman play the third movement of Chopin’s E Minor Piano Concerto on Amazon Prime Music, and it feels like coming home to myself.