Invited to Play on Cups and Bowls

I probably wouldn’t have written this if I didn’t just read the WSJ piece about Joshua Bell. But something in it reminded me about my own stopping today. The kind of living that you are never sure of until you hear and experience it.

I was there to finish writing a piece I started yesterday. But, when I got there I was sparked onto something a good bit different. As I composed my own symphony of HTML and CSS on this iPad, there was a man on the other side of the glass, listening to a Discman with some huge headphones, and drumming – on glasses and bowls, with pencils.

To be honest, I didn’t want to make eye contact with him. But, he was definitely into his playing. There was a sense about him that he knew his space, and enjoyed the music that life gave him. Eventually, I settled my split attention from him and put on my own headphones to work on my own piece. It was nothing major, just an idea that had to get out of my head. And as usual during those times, I quickly go from composing something on the keyboard to tapping out the beats coursing through my ears.

He glanced over and saw me playing. I noticed him looking and just kept my head down and smiled.

He had me though. He motioned me to come outside and play on his glasses and bowls. I pominted to my work – it was more important for me to finsh out that idea right? He nodded but persisted. What would stop me from coming out there? I didn’t know this guy. He had the appearance of someone who could be of very dubious association. I didn’t want to be distrubed. I just wanted to… then he left my field of vision.

A few seconds later there he was beside me. He wanted to know about what I was doing. And then, having my attention and conversation, he asked me again to come out and play. He said it looked as if I were a musician (I can’t play a lick of any instrument). Something about the conversation just said inside of me to go with the moment. So I accepted.

It was a warmer day than I thought it would be. I should have ridden my bike – even if it would have been a 30 mile day when done. There I was outside though. Waiting for his ok to begin playing. I tapped each of the glasses and bowls he had. I could hear his arrangement, this would sound really good in the hands of someone skilled with chimes and bells.

Then I stated. Nervous. What was I doing out there? I wonder what my friend inside was thinking about me going out there with this strange man to just play music on cups and bowls. I started to look back on the other side of the glass, but then the sound and motion got to me. “Get a faster pace,” I told myself. I could hear something coming together.

II’m not sure what provoked him to play alongside, but he started hitting on the items that I left aside. I heard a sound and went with it and it was fun. It was just for a moment, but it was fun.

He told me that he went to Harvard. He got his divinity degree there. I asked him what made him go to Harvard for that? He said, “because they accepted my application.” I smiled.

We miss the music sometimes you know. That part of life where if you just let something else play out on your day, things could be a bit better. I was guarded. I didn’t want the things I knew going on outside of penetrate and let me live a bit. Much like those folks that heard Mr. Bell playing (WSJ) but made little to no motion to enjoy it a while.

The gentleman and I might end up running into one another again. We might not. I’m not sure. Music invites us to move into another space. I’ve got to become less guarded if I’m going to enjoy the symphony this life has to offer.