On Loneliness and Small Acts of Presence

First of all, welcome to my blog, imaginary internet surfer/probable mother or close friend!

As a first (real) post, I thought I would put out a facebook note that I wrote a few months ago while I was in Berlin.  It was a moment when I felt that I had captured in writing a realization that I wanted to hold on to and to share, and was the first time I had really thought of starting a blog.  Here it is:

“You know, I don’t normally write facebook notes, and especially not ones of a sincere nature, but for some reason I want to right now, so I’m going with it.

For those of you who don’t know, I’m in Berlin right now, pretty much on my own. I came here June 20th, and I’m leaving on Tuesday. So my stay is almost done. But none of this is too important except to say that…

I have been kinda lonely.

Yeah, I know, it happens to everyone. But I’m not writing this just to whine (not entirely).

The fact is, a few things happened to me today that made me feel much less lonely, in fact not lonely at all. One of them was that I met with a piano teacher here, as well as a composition teacher, and both of them were very nice. The piano teacher in particular, though — an older man — was a very warm, sympathetic person. I knew going in that I need badly to work on my technique, and of course he told me that, just like a different piano teacher did, but something about the way he interacted with me made me feel that, hey, this guy understands. He’d been teaching all day, but he didn’t act rushed, and he could see that I deeply cared about the music, and that I want piano playing to be a part of my life, even if I’m mainly a composer. I mean the details aren’t important, but the point is he really listened, to my playing, to what I was saying, and it was palpable. He also spoke perfect English, which I don’t think is a coincidence, because he’s the kind of person for whom communication would be important.

The other things that happened that were really nice were a couple of largely wordless interchanges as I traveled through the city. The first was on the subway with an older lady who was sitting there fanning herself (with a fan), talking to a friend of hers. (Incidentally, it’s been really hot and humid here, and there was no draft in the Subway.) I’d bought a couple slices of pizza and had them in a box on my lap, so, partly as a joke and partly not, I started fanning myself with the lid of the box. I think she found this kind of amusing (partly because it was so unpleasantly hot that it wasn’t a crazy thing to do), and for the rest of the trip we exchanged a few smiles. Then as she left she said bye to me.

Then later, as I headed home, I was sitting toward the back of the tram, and at the very back there were these kind of nasty guys — which is to say they were eating messily, throwing their trash on the ground, and at one point (I believe, though perhaps my German wasn’t good enough) one of them asked an attractive female leaving the tram if he could squeeze her ass. So, really charming characters. I did not connect with them in either a deep or shallow manner, in case you’re wondering. But part way through, a young woman about my age sat down across from me, and I caught her eye and exchanged a few eye-rolls with her about the guys sitting behind her. Like with the older lady in the subway, we exchanged a few looks back and forth. It wasn’t much at all — a very simple interchange — but seeing a smiley laugh (or perhaps a laughy smile?) dance across her face made me feel really happy. Somehow, without any words we were able to briefly connect, she and I. This time, I left first, and I said bye to her and smiled.

She was pretty, by the way. She had a kind face and a really nice smile. I love it when girls have nice smiles. 🙂

I think, if I weren’t leaving Berlin in a few days, I should have somehow slipped her my phone number or something. Even so, I’m wondering whether I missed an opportunity. Damn.

“…and I don’t know what to do… ’cause I’ll never be with you…”

(Strips naked and starts singing in falsetto.)

No, really though. The point is, these little acts, these little interchanges, are so important, so precious. I really want to lead my life in such a way that I’m present for these small opportunities. And I want the kind of work that I do to be infused with this way of being. I think it’s such a beautiful possibility, and something worth working very hard to achieve.”

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About marcpevans

I'm a composer, and a graduate student at UC Santa Barbara. This blog contains my philosophical musings on music and on other things. If you want to actually listen to my music, you can find it at www.marcevansmusic.com. Welcome! :)
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One Response to On Loneliness and Small Acts of Presence

  1. Valentina says:

    Ah I found your note!!! I love this so much that I dare not comment… even though, technically, that’s what I’m doing I guess…

    Details!

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