Tuning In


Greetings, to both friends and strangers.

In my own travels, I feel it is best to do what we can for others as often as is reasonable and possible. This philosophy of mine is what led me to a family friend’s house earlier today.

This friend, who needed help recovering her home in Sandy’s wake, had surprisingly little for me to do. The yard work had been done, for the most part, and the women there were handling the interior work. Then she drew my attention to the piano.

Foremost, let me introduce you to this instrument. It wasn’t just some piano, like any old kind you might stumble across. This was an antique, hand-made player piano. Even in its broken, waterlogged condition, it sang about the decades of history it’d been through.

Destroying it was nearly painful, but, this was the task that had been assigned to me. I was to find a way to dispose of it.

Fortunately, I have a pretty keen, analytical mind (I was almost an engineer, but I hate math and have always loved writing, so here I am). I was able to take a quick look at it and, within an hour or so, had gutted it like the catch of the day.

The inside is what truly got to me; the strings, still being in perfect condition (after all, musical notes are made by percussion on a tense wire) were still able to produce music. Here I am, forced to tear apart an instrument that, with time and effort, could have lived again. Alas, none of us had enough of either.

After a while, I hit a dead end and found myself staring at the strings, which were all still attached to the metal plate anchored to the back of the piano itself. On an impulse, I reached up and flicked one.

Then I flicked another.

And another.

Soon I found myself utterly hypnotized by the most archaic way of playing a piano- by manually plucking each string, drawing out a shrill note from strings that were no doubt rejoicing in the chance to play one last song.

There’s something in such base simplicity that allows virtually anyone to play it, as long as one isn’t tone deaf; this got me thinking about writing.

As I drew out a macabre jubilance through discord, I was reminded of something I’ve often said but have not always, tragically, believed: that anyone can be good at something, they simply have to find the way of doing it that is right for them.

But, in the end, we all have our own creative brilliance to explore.

Whomsoever designed the piano that I destroyed has my praise, as it was a mechanical beauty- and doesn’t writing reflect that beauty in steampunk and other derivative tech-punks?

The notes I played may have sounded dark and tragic, but they also sounded somehow beautiful. Don’t we explore such things in romance and horror?

We pass by a cemetary; most see death, but don’t some see inspiration, whether from the stones, which stand against all forces of nature to pay tribute to those passed, or from the people themselves, when the memory of them lives for far longer? Is this determination to defy the natural order not the essence of all writing?

And so I sat, staring at 88 perfect strings, which, once I’d finished with them, ultimately faced destruction, I couldn’t help but be grateful simply for my ability to notice that.

On the ride home, I contemplated the structural beauty of architecture, the precise nature of mathematics, the endless patterns of history that, as they say, repeats itself- and I see millions of people, each expressing the same thought.

“I am, and this is mine; this is what I wish to do, and I will do so, for no other reason than that I believe it is what I am supposed to do. For it, I will achieve immortality or annihilation, and I accept this.”

Now, I return to my computer, to my humble little portion of reality that, day by day, I whittle towards something I might consider perfect.

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