Jazz to the Silent Hall

My Father was a saxophone player. He was also a heroin addict. Because of a letter he wrote to my Mom, I also know he had a good heart. To quote Neil Young “Every junkie’s like a setting sun.” My father was a setting sun, I never got to see.

When I was sixteen years old, I picked up a saxophone and started to play. My mother became uncharacteristically rough in her criticism of my fledgling skills. I eventually gave it up, convinced that I was no good. Years later, she confessed that I was the spitting image of my Dad and it was just too painful for her to see me around the house with a saxophone.

I always regretted putting that saxophone down. I took up the art of Kung Fu and never looked back. One night about 35 years later it occurred to me that my dream of playing the saxophone had come true, but in an unexpected form. The Dojo was my jazz club, philosophy was my instrument, and words were my notes. Once the rhythm and the beat were set, and I would just play, free as a bird. Like Charlie Parker I found notes in between the notes. I taught things I never knew, and discovered things I never dreamed could be.

Just the other night I had this vision. I am in the jazz club, golden saxophone in hand, playing up a storm. I am one with the band, the audience, and the music. The doors burst open and through the smoke and neon lights, I see an angel approach the stage…. “Time for you to go” she whispers.

She blindfolds me and leads me to a place that is empty and void. She removes the blindfold. I am in a grand concert hall that is completely dark except for a piano that is highlighted on the stage. She sits me down in front of the piano and says “Play!” I look around and see that there is nothing but empty seats as far as the eye can see, and more empty seats beyond that. She repeats “Play!”

“But, there’s no one here to hear.” I protest.

“That is none of your business, just play!”

“But what good is music, if there is no one there to hear it?” I ask sincerely.

“It is our job to take the music beyond this hall, it is yours to play. If you are faithful to your task, your song may be heard beyond these walls one day. But you must begin or there will be nothing to hear!”

So, I started to play.

Playing the piano, feels totally different than playing the saxophone. But music is music, so I commit my hands to the keyboard, the same keyboard, that my fingers are touching this very instant.

So, what about you my friend, is there a metaphorical angel calling you into the unknown, Will you pretend not to listen, and choose comfort and familiarity, over the call of your heart?


Peace in, Peace out, SI Gong

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