Okay, I said we’d had a fun musical outing, and a not-so-fun one. This is going to be the not-so one.
I’m not going to identify the individual, nor the organization that sponsored his concert, nor even the instrument he played. I have no wish to embarrass or insult anyone. But, because the whole thing seemed so very sad, I want to say a few words about the incident.
Nothing to do with the story, but a nice Halloween feel.
First, the musician. We’d seen a posting about him on the Web in our search for things to do. We figured we’d see his performance. Why not? It was a Saturday afternoon and we had nothing else to do. And it sounded fun.
We bought tickets and on the day in question, we were at the venue in good time. We found seats and relaxed, waited for the performance to begin.
I looked out at the rest of the audience. How old everyone is, I thought. Everyone seemed to be quite senior. That’s not surprising. We’re not far from a large “over 55 community.” Maybe, I thought, today’s audience had been largely drawn from that housing development. There were no teenagers, no young families, no children...
But, then, I looked again. I realized it wasn’t just age. There were several people around me who were no older than I was. Some were younger. However, I saw no smiles on the faces around me. I saw no excitement. I heard no delighted laughs as friends met one another.
Instead, there was a grimness to them that made them seem far, far older than they actually were. I felt that I was in the midst of a great, gray, dark cloud...or, I’d say, a murder of crows, but crows can be loud and raucous. There is a joy in them when they are in company...and there was nothing like that here.
Then, too, I saw eyes turning to us...then glancing away. There were whispered conversations. I had the distinct feeling that we were the outsiders...strangers...the only people in the audience who weren’t known to everyone else.
The houselights dimmed and the performer came on stage. He was very, very talented. I think he was a genuine virtuoso.
He did not look well. He was overweight and puffy. He looked like a heart attack waiting to happen. I Googled him up, later. He had been on tour for five months straight. And, at least as well as I could tell from his website, that was the norm for him. Clearly, the lifestyle did not include eating well, or getting enough exercise, or finding time for reasonably paced escapes from stress.
The performance came to an end. There was a brief period of polite applause. The musician took a tentative bow, as though unsure of his reception. Then, he remained uneasily on the stage while the crowd stood and began to silently make its way to the exits. After a time, he left the stage and I didn’t see him again.
Martha and I, too, made our way to the doors. We walked the short distance to the car. I looked back once or twice. I didn’t see the musician. I assume the organizers of the event were with him, and that they took him out to dinner. At least, I hope that’s what happened.
Then, Martha and I drove home. I stopped by the liquor store and bought whiskey. I suspected we would need it.
Why was the audience so joyless? I don’t know. I think it may have just been the luck of the draw. Sometimes you’re just unfortunate as to who is in the crowd.
But, also, I later did some research into the organization which had put on the concert. It seemed to be one of those groups that is very, very serious about its “mission”...so serious that it forgets that the purpose of an organization is not the mission statement on a page somewhere, nor the petty politics going on behind the scenes (who will be president? who will determine the agenda?), but rather to promote art and music and science, and to have a little fun in the process.
That would explain why there were no children, no teenagers, no young families...no one new in the audience. There had been no effort attract them...or anyone else from “outside.” And it explained why we had drawn the curious stares. We were unknown. We were strangers. We were ...not entirely welcome.
The moral of the story? Or, rather, the two morals? The first, obviously, is that not every adventure is for the better. But that’s not a reason to stop seeking out adventures. It is just a warning that not all of them will go according to plan.
The second moral: that day, in that audience, we saw the sort of people we do not wish to become--old before their time, choosing to be sad when there was reason for joy, rejecting the newcomer and the new experience for no other reason than that they are, indeed, new. We need to be certain, absolutely certain, that we do not follow a similar path.
So...there was real wisdom to be derived from the teachings of the day. And if I did not care for the lesson itself...never-the-less...
I must be grateful to the teacher.
More to come
About the photo. As always, it has nothing to do with the story. This is a picture of Martha from last October when we took a quick trip to the little town of Salado. You can see it was Halloween season from her two pumpkin friends. You can also tell that it is Texas and not Massachusetts by the fact that everything is...sigh...green.
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