Re-Invent, with Music

Oct 7, 2009
Regensburg: Walhalla: Ludwig van Beethoven
Image by bill barber (very sporadic) via Flickr

Where does that inner wellspring of creativity live and how can one touch it? In continuing on with our interview of Dr. Allen Bishop, I’d like to discuss his views of how music can become a way for getting in touch with one’s internal essence, or beauty.

Dr. Bishop stated about the way children develop through music and art offerings in school, “mainly it’s a vehicle for developing your interiority, and not your external, social, compliant self.”

He explained his views on how music can be therapeutic personally by giving the example of Beethoven’s transformation. “I’ve used music as a therapeutic modality for myself at different points in my life. I use Beethoven as a model of an individual who has triumphed over adversity and some limitations. Also an individual who shows us that, as Bion says, is always possible to bring beauty to difficult circumstances. Beethoven brought the energy of his deafness in 1802 in the midst of suicide and depression, to reinvent himself. As a composer and musician, his greatest music emerged out of that struggle. I think he points to a kind of a psychology based on a certain kind of acceptance, or what he would call, resignation. He had to resign himself to this loss. Once he could do that, then all the energy was freed and came back in this beautiful way. I think that’s what human beings have to do.”

In my view, Dr. Bishop’s statements have a lot to do with letting go of our vision of how things “should be” and instead engaging with that inner knowing and following its calling. Frankly, I tire of how romanticized this can sound, “just follow your calling.” Sometimes the things that call to you are not that easy, or obvious. Can you imagine Beethoven’s disbelief and disillusionment when he became deaf to the very thing that called to him? Sometimes this journey gets extremely difficult, and that part of it is oft overlooked. In Jungian psychology, this is called the Hero’s Journey, and it is the term for that path that reconnects you to the things you want most in life, to the things you are called to do, to the inner you. Paradoxically, the myths of how heros and heroines develop usually entail the giving up of everything else, in order to achieve the ultimate prize. In real life, I believe there can be many prizes, maybe one for vocation, for love, for family, for each person. But, we do share something in common with our mythic heros and even contemporary legends, like Beethoven, there is usually some great sacrifices along the journey.

What have you given up to get closer to your inner self, or your calling? Are you being asked to resign to a fate, at this time? Does music assist you in the connection to your inner self, or your calling?

Note:  I originally published this post on on April 24, 2009.

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2 Responses so far | Have Your Say!

  1. Diana
    October 12th, 2009 at 10:41 pm #

    re: art and music: “mainly it’s a vehicle for developing your interiority, and not your external, social, compliant self.” He may have been talking about school children, but it’s applicable to me too.

    It’s taken me 56 years to understand the importance of this statement. I have long been an artist and have had years of analysis but have yet to completely shed my “external, social, compliant self’s” control over my life. I am just now beginning to see how keeping my eye on the (one) prize kept me from seeing that “there can be many prizes.”

    I don’t believe that there is only “one calling” for me any more. I do believe that the school system I was exposed to promoted that idea to an extreme. A shame really.

  2. Brenda
    October 25th, 2009 at 5:38 pm #

    Hi Diana,
    I really like your point about there being more than one prize and more than one calling. That’s such a more realistic view because we are not so simple as to only desire one thing. Thanks for commenting, and thanks also for waiting while I learn how to do comments on my new site!