Monday, November 1, 2010
In Vienna, at an evening concert, during a cello solo, I figured out my entire life. I sat in the beautiful, nearly-full hall and let the music wash over me. Earlier in the concert, I had been a little transfixed on the giant chandelier in the middle of the room. I had a great view of it from our spot on the front row of the cheap seat section. During some of the especially boisterous songs, the chandelier swayed a little and turned. I realized that it must be the sound waves moving it and I was self-pleased to have noticed such a clever detail.
I guess the sound waves were moving me too, because my thoughts started turning and turning, and as the cellist performed, I began to see everything with stunning clarity. Everything that has been bothering me about myself, my world, my circle of family and loved ones, was unraveled and untangled from my thoughts, released from my heartache, and completely solved. The ones that have no solution, and therefore don't require my personal worry regime, were released to fly away. Everything was going to be fine, I realized. Within myself. Without myself.
The cellist continued. He looked as if he were performing open heart surgery on his instrument, he was so thorough and delicate and ambitious. And my heart, the one that has felt torn and heavy for months, finally seemed to be weightless and whole again. It was amazing.
There was a sound. A crackle.
Then another crackle.
It came from behind. I looked over my shoulder to see a blondish, twenty-something woman digging in her giant handbag. Craaaackle. Crackle. CRACKLY-CRACKLY-CRACKLE-CRACK! I had to wonder---did she not know that we were sitting in a concert? And furthermore, that I was in the middle of figuring out my entire life?
It was the sound of stiff paper bags that I figured were holding individual Viennese pastries or brownies or other delicious sustenance. Now, I'm sympathetic to the spontaneous need for a snack, especially when it involves Viennese pastries, so I decided to forgive and forget.
Crackly crack crack crackle crackle CRACKLE crack cracklecracklecracklecrackle.
I looked over my shoulder again. I watched her remove a handful of little paper bags from her purse. And what she started pulling out from them was not an assortment of petit fours, or even a delicious frankfurter, but a bunch of cheap, wooden toys to play with and show off to her friend, crackly, crackly, crackling all the while. I was aghast, which is the Viennese translation of the American English word "pissed."
In the meantime, the brilliant cellist at the opposite end of the hall, played and played while tiny beads of sweat formed on his brow. And the handbag hedonist kept crackling her stupid paper bags. It was like dueling banjos, except for the lack of banjos.
I decided to pull out the Glare. Yeah, that's right, the Glare. Some of you probably didn't even know that I have a Glare, but that is because I use it with great discretion, only in moments of true need. (Because I am generally a non-confrontational pansy.) However, I summoned the Glare, affixed it to my face, and peered into the black soul of the woman with the cheap toys who was ruining the song, the concert, and also my entire life.
Crackly crack crack crackle crackle. Crackle CRACKLE crackly crackly crack.
Within twenty seconds, the Glare had done its work. She looked up, her eyes met mine, and she read my face. She looked down and within a quick crackle or two she was silent.
The Glare had done its work. I put it away as the cellist crescendoed into the final measures of the song. I tried to settle back into my Zen-like state. I tried to review all the beautiful truths I had discovered. I tried to remember all that I had moments before figured out.
But I couldn't. Everything was a tangle again. The song ended, the crowd erupted into applause, and the chandelier turned and swayed. My mind was still searching as one truth bobbed up to the surface, perfectly clear and brilliant. It was: This is what you get for buying the cheap seats.