Though I marked the occasion of the anniversary of the Greatest Day yesterday, energetically I connected with the experience most profoundly last Friday. The piano concert I mentioned in The Greatest Day I've Ever Known was a performance by the winner of the Van Cliburn competition that year. The Van Cliburn is a quadrennial competition, and this past Friday, this year's winner performed at Macky Auditorium, just as the 2013 winner had. Between the contemplation of that not-so-distant day and being in a space that was physically and in some ways musically the same1, I found myself overcome with strong emotions.
It wasn't that I found myself reliving the depression, not by any stretch. Rather, I could recall the emotions of that day in a way that left me somewhat overwhelmed, and then to that I experienced the added emotion of the profound gratitude I feel at how far I've come. Consider: I went from the flat gray expanse of the anhedonic depression in which I lived for so many years prior to late 2013, then into the deep black pit I found myself in around the time of the Greatest Day (of which the Greatest Day was, obviously, the deepest, blackest part), and then into about eight months of turmoil, instability and anguish before I hit bottom in early August 2014--and from there I embraced life changes so significant that it's only because of our sense of continuity of self-identity that I don't simply say that I am literally a different person now.
Not that I don't still have some connections to that four-years-ago me. I'm still learning how to be happy. It turns out that happy as a baseline demands a different approach to life than what I lived previously. Of course, it is a privilege and an honor to get to do that learning, and a still greater privilege to bear witness to the process, that I might help others who are going through what I went through.
Four short years have passed since the Greatest Day, but I live in a different world now.
1 The long-ago music major in me feels the need to clarify that this year's winner was a very different musician from the winner in 2013. They are from different countries and cultures, with commensurately different relationships to the piano repertoire, and quite distinct in terms of technique and tone. Classical pianists are a far cry from fungible, young music-major Benjamin wants you to know.