Proust and Procrustes

Listening to these Mozart piano sonatas is evocative. I played some of these, and listening to them takes me right back to adolescence. I was an earnest and focused pianist who hated to practice but really loved playing when I got into the zone.

The whole world of me-as-classical-musician encompasses me as a 14 year old in dorky corduroy pants and a polo shirt and deck shoes, me with a mop of hair that fell into my eyes, me the scholar. Playing the piano was one of the things I did for my parents and also sometimes enjoyed myself. Like sailing, and excelling in school. Left to my own devices I would not have played or sailed or been the smart dorky kid. Sailing well or playing effortless Bach on the piano felt good.

And when I was left to most of my own devices in college I didn’t do any of those things either. No piano or sailing since 1983, and no academic success since 1984.

The circumscribed life I had when my parents owned me worked a lot better than the decade afterwards. In that bubble world I was a huge success. My total misery was fairly unimportant, since it was expected that anyone my age would be miserable. As long as I played my piano well (on every level), everything was okay. I’m still angry that they never took my fucked-up emotional life seriously.

So I see in my mind’s eye this serious young guy in his sweater and slacks sweating out a sonata and I think: you poor fucker. You’re about to step off a dive board into a huge pool of shit, and no one’s going to lift you out or even explain what’s going on for a decade.

2 thoughts on “Proust and Procrustes

  1. Lately I too find myself visualizing and taking pity on my former selves as if they were separate people. I wonder what it means. I mean, it’s unbelievably self-absorbed but it’s so wonderfully cathartic too. There’s the fat angry 17 year-old, there’s the scared skinny 23 year-old, etc, oh those poor losers. I’m not sure if it’s a way of putting those bad times behind, or wallowing in them.

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