Thursday, August 07, 2008

Nobody Listening

I wandered, blinded, overwhelmed by work, out onto the street. Tried to walk one way, or another. The decision about which way to walk was too difficult to make. I thought of trying a new restaurant for lunch, but knew I could never muster the courage to walk into a new place. I wasn't sure I had the courage to walk into a place I knew. Hesitantly I walked a few blocks towards the river, then a few blocks north. The sun walked behind me, fingering his club.

Taking another step was more than I could do. I came to a halt. People hurried by me on the sidewalk.

A tall, thin, patched young man, with something of an Amish look, was playing a violin on the corner. He stood stiffly, and he wore clumsy boots. When he broke into a riff he would wiggle a little, the music in his body at war with his native awkwardness.

As I stood there, with the sun beating down on my head, I became aware that he was playing an intricate piece, and playing it with extraordinary virtuosity and passion. No one was listening to him. I don't know that I looked as if I was listening to him. But I closed my eyes and let myself be swamped by the music, filled up with it. It was very beautiful. Merry music, running directly against the grain of of my anxiety. And this young man from nowhere, playing. Just on the chance that someone might hear.

Suddenly I was okay. The weight lifted off me. I straightened up. I could breathe.

I walked over and dropped a five into the violin case open by his feet. "Thanks, man," I mumbled, probably inaudibly, unable to meet his glance. I went to try a new cafe for lunch.

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