A month or so ago, I happened upon a perfectly good piano at a local yard sale. We’d been planning to get a piano for the family, and as yard sales only last a day, this opportunity pressed the issue. The family selling it was moving and needed it gone fast, so we picked it up for a deal.
There was just one problem: it was completely out of tune. So bad, in fact, that we couldn’t play it at all in the middle.
My original plan was to get everyone good old fashioned piano lessons once it was tuned, but my kids don’t think that way. Instead, the day I brought it home, X went onto YouTube and started learning how to play songs that interested him. The Super Mario theme song, Tetris theme song, Happy Birthday. This inspired the girls to look up favorite pop songs on YouTube and they began to play as well. Everything was either in a very low, or very high octave, but music had broken into our house, and there was no stopping it.
From the minute we got it, our house felt more like a home. As if we could all envision a roast baking in the oven and good stories being told by the fire. And the sound of the music coming from an instrument, as opposed to a stereo, was different. The richness of it filled the air.
Today was the day the piano tuner came. An older man, he showed up with his wooden toolbox, no bigger than a lunch pail. He dismantled the front of the piano to reach the strings properly, and then sat down on the bench, working his way through string after string, trying to salvage it’s sound.
As I watched him with his docker pants that rose high above his ankles when he sat, and his patient and calm method of tuning, I was suddenly struck by something. I couldn’t put my finger on it at first, and then it hit me. He was doing something very real. A craft.
And I began to see that so much of what my family and I do, is virtual. I write a blog on the internet. My book is an e-book. Dan and I work in sales, which means we never touch the actual product (other than samples), and we don’t do the manual labor of installing it. Our success is measured on spreadsheets filled with numbers, not a finished product in our hands. Even our friends and family have become virtual on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
I’m not saying this is bad, but in that moment I just noticed the contrast.
A couple of weeks ago the neighbors above us threw a party. A very loud party that started around 12:00 AM and went until about 3:00 AM. I was very angry at first. I felt like it was so inconsiderate. After all, they’re in an apartment complex, not out on a ranch somewhere.
There I was, stewing in my bed wondering why the police hadn’t shown up yet, when their loud music stopped, and a woman started to sing the most beautiful song. It was a Spanish song, and her voice was strong and rich. I became suddenly mesmerized, and I wanted her to sing all night.
When she stopped, and they returned to their dancing and music, I had a different outlook on their party. I began to listen to what was going on. They were all so happy. Just dancing and singing and laughing. How could I fault such a thing?
I was struck by the same feeling that my life was lacking a certain dimension. That in all my modern advancements, something had been lost.In all my modern advancements, something real has been lost. Click To Tweet
When the piano tuner had finished the job and reassembled the piano, he sat down and played for us. It was amazing. The boys sat up straight, their eyes wide in wonder. They hadn’t known the instrument could make such a full sound. I could see inspiration dripping from their fingers.
A piano is one thing. Getting together with people is another. Making things with my own two hands, one more. What will change if we began to remember a culture where we played, and laughed, and danced together? Not just liked each other’s posts. I’d like to see.
This post was inspired by the Friday Reflections writing quote prompt, “Writing means sharing. It’s part of the human condition to want to share things – thoughts, ideas, opinions.” – Paulo Coelho
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