It was the time of day he loved best, before the rush of commuters, shortly after the rising of the sun. He picked a new spot in the center of town, where he hoped just one person might hear his message, share in his joy, and be touched by his gift.
He settled the beat up case on the crackled cement, carefully, as though it held something precious. Careless of onlookers, the young man flipped open the metal latches and lifted the lid. Even now his breath caught a little at the sight of his worn and well-known instrument. He lovingly pulled the violin from its’ tomb, settling it into place at his neck. The other hand quickly pulled out the bow, his masterful fingers delicately balancing the object against strings. A few quick flicks of the wrist, a few gentle turns to tune, and he was ready.
For a moment he stood poised, allowing the harsh noise of the streets rake over his musicians mind, mentally flipping through his files of compositions, allowing the first piece to choose itself. At last one pushes to the front of the line. A gentle lift at the corners of his supple lips is the only sign of pleasure before he dips in.
Like an artist with a brush our performer begins to paint a picture. His body moves with the melody, feeling every note as though they were each a part of him. Fingers fly at the tip of the violin, racing so fast at times if someone were looking on they might not be able to see each movement, only a blur. It is not only the song he wishes to impart. It is the heart and soul of what he feels, of what he imagines the composer must have felt, that he attempts to portray in his limited, mortal way.
Minutes pass by and he is barely aware of anything around him. The noise, so achingly severe mere moments before, is no longer present. They do not exist in his world. Now the sweet, playful notes drown out every other sound. His tall, trim form sways and moves to the whims of the music, which controls him much as a conductor controls the wand. At times he is not sure if he is playing the violin, or if the music is playing him.
All too soon the song comes to an end, but it is easily replaced by another. This time he chooses something soft, slow. It echoes the sometimes piercing hollowness he feels when solitude crashes over him, overwhelming. Unbidden tears course down his cheeks as the essence of the music overtakes his rational self. He cannot stop them from coming, just as he cannot stop the insatiable need to plunge into this world where nothing exists but these musical messages from masters long gone.
The composition barely resolves when another takes over, anxious to push it’s mournful predecessor into the past, bringing with it a surge of hope. The bow dances over four pieces of tightly wound steel, pulling from them wondrous sounds, almost like the tinkling of laughter. Our performer’s lips pull up yet again as the soul of the song resonates from his mind, through his arm, down to his instrument, then back again. A cycle of pleasure only few in this world can possibly understand.
Has he been there for hours, lost in a world of his making; or has it been mere minutes, a lifetime lived as his bow finally halts the last, lingering note? He dares not open his eyes, unwilling to let the feeling go.
But the repertoire of his mind has been completed to thunderous silence. No other songs come to mind. And the coarse sounds of the world his mortal self lives in begins to intrude. At last he releases the moment, allowing himself to unwind, and kneels to place the cherished prize back in it’s tomb. The latches are secured once more and at last he stands, only then wondering if anyone along these busy streets bothered to stop and share.
As his eyes look round he sees barely a head had turned, hardly a body stopped. So much beauty, in such a tiny portion of this world, and scarcely a heart had heard.
To Stand or Kneel - For the last couple of years the high school at which I work as a lunch lady has had a wonderful project to help the students and even faculty get to know ...
7 months ago