Triggering Associations

The trigger happened one night as I was watching Raymond Reddington enthuse over a glass of Romanée-Conti in an episode of “The Blacklist“.

The name rang a bell and got me trying to remember where the Romanée-Conti Reddington spoke of came from. No, of course, it couldn’t be a Bordeaux, I mused, nor a Côte de Rhône and it certainly isn’t a Beaujolais (or was I confusing it with a Moulin a Vent?) leaving just the Bourgogne region, Burgundy if you prefer, as the place of origin.

What followed was a succession of memories of enjoying glasses of Côte de Beaune, Volnay, Côte de Nuits, Meursault, Pouilly-Fuissé, and many more, in fine company. Of course, one thing leading to another, all this musing was also triggering memories I wasn’t sure I wanted to develop and then I recalled a piece of wisdom from my wife.

Spousal Wisdom

My wife maintains that the object of an association is what it is, whether a glass of Volnay or Sting singing “Fields of Gold”. Regardless of the sentiment you attach to an object, it is and always will be just that, an object. That said, if you had the flair to choose it in the first place, why deprive yourself of the object’s excellence now because of a tenuous association with a period of your life you’ve since put behind you? It took me a while to assimilate this but I got there.

And Sting in all this? I have quite an extensive collection of music, of all sorts, 70s Prog Rock, Southern Rock, Soul, as well as a lot of nu-metal and punk rock stuff from the 2000s, and Electronic, lots of Electronic music but strangely and until recently, very little of anything from the late 80s and early 90s and what I have, notably Sting & U2, I wouldn’t play because of their association with that particular period of my life*…
(*During a recent house move and using down-sizing as a pretext, I threw out several post “Rattle and Hum” U2 CDs and if you’re wondering why I didn’t try and sell them, I did but at ~50cts the CD on Amazon a trip to the tip was the quick fix.)

…So what made me change and seek out choice music from the 80s and 90s? What got me willing to consider listening to early U2 once again? Spousal wisdom, and some help from my son.
My wife of now let drop that yes, while Prog Rock from the 70s is nice, my taste in music was a tad staid and needed bringing into the 21st century. So off I went and discovered a lot of new material complimenting material, mainly alternative, subculture, fringe music I’d, let’s say, “discovered” with my son on Napster, Kazaa and MySpace in the early 2000s.

Here’s the interesting part. The remark about my taste in music, albeit spot on, was an analogy. What my wife was getting at was, only seeking comfort or refuge in objects associated with happy periods of life, while rejecting others, music, places, etc., because of a less happier but now tenuous association is a sign that their legacy is still present and stopping you from moving on and sharing new associations, from the same excellent objects, with those around you today.

Trigger Me, Trigger Me Not

Tempted as I was to write off and bury the late 80s, early 90s in some bottomless pit along with a lot of niggly associations, as a plan that wasn’t going to work for reasons mentioned above.

Another option, poles apart from the first would have been to expose the whole shebang, place it in full view, like sticking some “F minus” school homework grade on the fridge door, forever reminding me of what I’d moved on from. It would also have had the effect of preempting, and neutralizing any fallout or attempted exploitation by others but would it have allowed me to move on? No, I didn’t think it would.

In the end, the solution consisted of confronting antagonists and protagonists from the associated past in a particular environment to see what, if anything, still triggered an emotion. Nothing did, at least not for this protagonist, effectively terminating there and then any residual link, bond, or association. The irony was though that during this “therapy session” new associations came about. A memorable site and a special occasion were just begging for a pleasant association…

… As for Sting. No, sorry. “Fields of Gold” never got a look in, maybe next time, who knows.

About nickrichards38

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