Before I get to the post I planned to write today, I would just like to say that there is nothing better for my morning mood than ruining some jerks morning. Or at least putting a kink in it. No, I do not go out of my way to ruin someone else's morning.
As I was walking across the parking lot to get my morning coffee before going to work, I stopped to check both ways before crossing the pedestrian path in the lot that leads to the main building. I got maybe two or three steps off the sidewalk when I heard a hissing of breaks. I looked to my right and my heart skipped a couple of beats or maybe it just stopped as I saw a huge truck screeching to a halt. The driver had not been paying attention and had nearly run me over. He had the nerve to honk at me.
I had already stopped, so turned to face him, took off my sunglasses, and gave him a Specialty Withering. The Specialty Withering is a look so condescending, so scornful, so powerful that J-Lynne has insisted it makes her feel two inches tall and about as smart as a rock. Granted, most of the time I can't help it when I give someone the Specialty Withering. But when I make the effort the result is astounding.
I made eye contact for several seconds, and then he had the audacity to stick his head out of his window and yell, "Get out of my way, you stupid hippy."
I didn't give him the finger. Not because I didn't want to, because I really wanted to flick him off. I didn't give him the finger because I'm not sure if that's actually illegal or not. You never can tell with the ridiculous laws they are passing these days. Instead, I held my look for a few seconds longer, then gave him a dazzling smile, flounced my long, hippy like skirt, and skipped off.
He took off like the devil was after him. What a jerk. I told Padawan about it when I got to work (we google chat from our respective jobs throughout the day) and he was less than pleased with the situation. I personally find it pretty funny. I hope I made him late for whatever was so important. And for the record, just because I'm wearing a floor length, silk skirt and have long hair doesn't make me a hippy.
Anyway, on to the post.
On Sunday Padawan were out and about and we went to a store that I swear was made by nerds for nerds. While we were inside looking through some software I heard a piano. I stopped and listened and said, "Padawan, someone's actually playing that piano."
The store has a grand player piano, but it mostly just sits there. I've never seen or heard it played before.
"No, it's a player piano. They just turned it on today. Nobody is playing it. Nobody ever plays it."
I listened for a few more minutes. "No, somebody is playing the piano. It's not on automatic."
He insisted it was playing, and I insisted it was a person, so we walked through the software and around the corner to the section where the piano resides. And there, sitting on the bench, was a young man playing to his heart's content on the Grand.
"I told you it was a person."
"Nope. I knew it."
And this is how I knew: I work in a music store. We have a wide and varied selection of pianos in our Piano Department. Digitals, grands, baby grands, uprights, and player pianos. I've learned to tell the difference between when a human being is playing a piece and when the piano is playing.
You can always tell because a human does not play systematically. A human will take a piece and make it his or her own. They will caress certain notes and chop others. Three different musicians could play "Claire Delune" three different ways. A piano will only play it the way it's written. It will be beautiful. Perfect. Concise. But it will not move you the way a person playing will. A piano cannot interpret music, can not move you through the feelings of the composer. It takes a human being to put emotion into a musical composition. A piano will play notes on a page. A person will play music.
So I knew, without a fathom of a doubt, that there was a person playing the piano.
And I stopped to listen even as Padawan and Master Plo Koon, who we were watching for a couple of hours, moved on. The young man didn't have any sheet music with him. The stand was empty. He was playing from memory, and in the cases where I didn't recognize what he played, I'm sure he just went with his heart. Talented. It was beautiful, inspiring. And then I noticed...
I was the only person standing there listening.
Hundreds and hundreds of people were milling around the store, talking to each other. None of them seemed to notice that there was a musician playing for them. For all they knew he could have been a world class performer of the greatest caliber, and for all the attention they paid him, he was just background noise, no more important than a radio.
Padawan and Master Plo Koon came back.
"Chanel, aren't you coming?"
"I want to listen for a few more minutes. Can't you wait just a little while? Listen. He's playing Imagine. You can't walk away when someone is playing John Lennon."
"I need to find that video card."
"But it's free live music! This is beautiful. We don't have anywhere else we have to be today. We can stop for just a moment and listen."
Padawan sighed and looked at the computer components sign. "You can stay and listen. We'll be over there." And he and and Master Plo Koon turned and walked away.
Now I know that not everybody feels the same way about music as I do. I don't expect that. But I find it extremely sad that I was the only person in the store who showed any interest in listening. Not even the children wandering around seemed curious, Master Plo Koon included. It's disappointing that people no longer try to find beauty in unexpected places, but it's even worse that beauty thrust under their noses goes unappreciated and unnoticed.
I know that some people think that if you're not in a hurry it's a sign that you're not very intelligent, or you're not very useful. But I think that's pretty wrong. If you're always in a hurry, if you never take the time to stop and pay attention to the world around you, you miss a lot of beautiful things. And what's the point of living if you can't enjoy the beauty in the world you live in? If you don't stop to listen to the birds, or the musician on the corner, or walk slow to enjoy the fresh air and the flowers and feel the joy of being alive, can you really say you're living?
And of course, I've managed to find a video that is absolutely relevant to my point. Watch it, listen, and think.
And just in case you want the full story....READ THIS.