Fade the world; the old and yellow leaves. Be the hill; the cemetery winds.
A very long time has passed since I first sat down, and a much longer time will pass before I get up. I remember sliding my fingers across the smooth wood, floating my eyes along with them: black-white-black-white-black, like all the zeros and ones of some oversized, wooden, music-making machine towering over me. Despite all the credit we love to give children for their purity and intuition, I wasn’t able to see any of it coming.
A piano on its own is just wood and strings and a whole lot of varnish. And though for a four year old to arrive at the word ‘machine’ won’t exactly invoke the death penalty, I take great offence when the word ‘instrument’ comes from anyone older. ‘Instrument’ implies ‘tool’, and I wonder: what exactly are you trying to accomplish with this tool of yours? A piano is an extension of the self. It is not my tool; it is I.
This makes things very complicated because an inherent quality of our bits and pieces is that they tend to follow us places. Places like elation: sparkle the Seine with quiet light and soft beating of the heart follows. Or hope: ignite the Polish revolution with the chromatic dexterity of the left hand and the chest fills with warmth. And fear: focus on the synchronization of the minor chords as the lungs hold it all in and try to understand it.
Places like love: use the entire range of pitch – every last black and white – in your desperate struggle to explain what it’s like to discover that someone else is also a person.
And in the music of another, it shows even more vividly. In ethereal beauty: the discovery becomes quick and the struggle effortless – almost involuntary. It’s a little strange at first: being thrown into someone else’s life. No longer able to navigate by sight as in our own illuminated memories, we are forced to feel around blindly. Eyes closed. Lights out.
When the keyboard cover is lifted, I am there. In the subtlest and least noticeable way, I sit in the darkness of the front row. I hear aspirations become virtuosity; feel timidity become confidence; witness a cry become a resounding and resilient voice. Be. Grow. Play. My Nietzchean superman, my Machivellian prince: extend yourself and play forever. Follow the music that is yourself like the windy autumn leaves that have always lead you home.