There’s a grand piano in a library, in an airport. I haven’t seen it but I know it’s there because a good friend told me about it. He rang me from its location because he simply had to share the experience with someone and because he knew I would appreciate it. He had found the library as he wandered around the airport, too early for his long-haul flight. He is the exploring type who embraces new territory with arms open wide and an enthusiasm which attracts and empowers. I have only known him for a couple of years but he will always be involved in my life; we seem to agree on many of the fundamental aspects of existence, and he makes me laugh and draws me out of myself, such is the intensity of his presence.
Having discovered the library, he moved inquisitively inside. There was music playing and its purity drew him further into the room. Here was a place for people to rest and read, accompanied by a soothing soundtrack capable of easing the busiest of airport minds. He found it enchanting, inspirational. Then he saw the piano. Up to that point he had automatically assumed the music to be a radio station or a CD, piped in through speakers unseen. It transformed the experience, like a flood of colour onto an already-beautiful black and white world.
He stood where he was, three steps into the room. Captivated. Motionless. It felt personal; as if both instrument and pianist had been placed there especially to ensure the wait for his plane would be a beautiful one. He is by nature an appreciative person, but even he was struck by how grateful he was to be there. As he described to me when he called, it showed him it is possible to find art anywhere.
The pianist was a young woman, clearly talented and, like at least one member of her audience, lost in the essence of her playing, seemingly untroubled by her early-morning shift at the airport. After a short while she stopped to speak to a young man who had approached her, his backpack slung lazily over one shoulder, acting as a counterbalance as he leaned on the polished surface of the piano. Its weight kept him from falling inwards toward her, leaning, as he was, as close as strangers might allow.
They talked for a while. There was an intimacy between them. Maybe a shared love of music. Or maybe he had requested a piece which meant more to her than music. But she didn’t play another note. Instead, after a check of her watch, she leaned gently to one side, picked up her own backpack which had been obscured by the piano’s form, and together they walked off to catch their flight.
My friend was right. I did appreciate it. It made my day. I took his call on the busy platform of a train station during the morning commute. There was no grand piano where I was standing, but in the clarity of his appreciation I was able to share his piano. One installed in an airport library for anyone and everyone to enjoy and which, only moments previously, had been brought to life by a woman who shared a moment of beauty with her boyfriend, a room full of strangers and one particularly appreciative friend of mine.