3. The Listener
The concert is over. The musicians are leaving the stage and I am left alone. For the last hour, they guided me and held my hand while I searched myself. Through what they shared, I was allowed to discover places within me that I had forgotten were there. They helped me encounter beauty and awe, made me face my own loss and despair, reminded me of yearning, and let me experience joy that has no boundary. They guided me to those places that I cannot even find words to describe. They helped me connect to the infinite which I will never understand, and made me to be honest in a way that life often doesn’t allow. As they leave, I know that I am a changed woman.
The lights come on and I realize that I am not alone. The crowd comes into focus and I start to wonder. Did they hear what I heard? Did they also discover and remember parts of themselves that they had forgotten? Were all of our hearts crumbling together? Did their flimsy walls also shatter? Are they also walking out more whole than when they walked in?
I leave the hall surrounded by other souls, yet alone in my trance, contemplating the miracle that just happened.
We wait near the backstage door for the artists to come out and all I can think about is what I’m going to say. What can I say to someone who has given such a precious gift? How can I thank them? Is there a way to give back what they’ve given me?
When it’s my turn to speak, I gush and stutter. I silently berate myself for sounding so lame. I am no poet. There is nothing I can say that would even come close to giving them what they’ve given me.
Yet as I stumble over my words I recognize something familiar in their eyes. Having given so much to a woman they’ve never met they are humble and embarrassed, but they also understand. They know what happened in that room, and they also don’t know how it came to be. And like me, they are so grateful for it that they don’t know what to say. They know that no amount of hard work and practice guarantees that they will be able to give anything. Yet they did. No amount of perfect technique or rehearsal can guarantee that you will touch someone’s soul. Yet they managed to touch mine. They know that a musician is no more than a kli (vessel). We build ourselves as best we can, but what comes out in the end has nothing to do with anything that comes from us.
So I walk away with a promise. That I will build my vessel to hold more every day. That I will work hard and face myself with honesty. And that with all that, I will know that what happens is not up to me.
And that is what gratefulness is. Giving your life everything that you have. Working on yourself, challenging your limits and growing every moment… and then letting go with nothing but thanks, because what is created through you is not yours to hold on to.