Internal Improvisation: Making Music Even When You’re Broken
There’s an old broken piano keyboard in someone’s pile of junk out in my street, waiting for the garbage truck. Most of the keys are bent and some have broken off. It’s looking pretty forlorn…
Have you ever felt a bit like that sometimes?
Like some of your keys have gone missing somehow.
Or some of your strings have been busted.
Or you’re just generally out-of-tune; neglected; broken.
Maybe at times like those it’s been tempting to just give up and wait for the truck…
But maybe there’s another option, too?
For perhaps it’s also important to remember the parts that remain.
To see the value of the pieces you’ve kept as well as those that are lost or damaged.
The present as well as the absent.
So even if you’ve felt damaged or broken by circumstance lately, and you can’t see the way back to repair just yet, maybe it’s still possible to play some music in your life… just as you are.
Granted, it might not sound the same as before.
But maybe improvising with fewer notes can actually bring new possibilities, new creativity, new sounds.
Perhaps, as Susan Murphy Roshi notes:
“Somehow, profound limitation
is a doorway
to boundless freedom.”
These strange gifts in the limitations are what always struck me about other creative pursuits, like photography and writing, too. Black and white photos are so evocative precisely because of what they’re missing (colour). And editing (sometimes losing great chunks of writing) makes a piece really shine.
So can working with limitations and loss also harbour unexpected gifts like this on a more intimate level?
But perhaps this Sufi saying captures the essence of it:
“When the heart grieves
for what it has lost,
the spirit rejoices
over what it has left”
Photo: infinite magic
Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar (Grad Dip Counselling & Psychotherapy) is a writer, blogger and Sydney psychotherapist in private practice at One Life Counselling & Psychotherapy. Gabrielle also co-facilitates telephone support groups for people who are living with cancer, for their carers, and for people who have been bereaved through a cancer experience. She was the former editor of a journal on counselling and psychotherapy and she provides regular therapeutic updates on facebook and Twitter @OneLifeTherapy.
Gawne-Kelnar, G. (2011). Internal Improvisation: Making Music Even When You’re Broken. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 13, 2016, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/therapist-within/2011/03/internal-improvisation-making-music-even-when-youre-broken/