Walking, just walking and trying not to think, but to be, to be in the right now while I am walking, and experience the now. Life has a way of tearing us apart, one small family member at a time leaving, and in the end feeling like the king of the hill because no one else is left, well almost.
My mind rarely shuts up, and while I walk I think. It is how I was raised, because thinking was what we did, reasoning, supporting our viewpoints. But now I try to leave that behind for part of the day each day, and just be in the now, and it helps if I can do it.
I did this every day for about 3 months, and every day I passed the same homeless man, wearing tattered grey cloths, looking a mess, long hair, beard, and not smelling to great either. I always left him with a buck or two as I walked. Each day he took the money, and we smiled at each other. That simple interaction became the highlight of the walk for me. He had such a beautiful smile, and his deep blue eyes seemed to say “Thank you” with such appreciation.
One day I was so in the zone of now I left my wallet at home and had no money with me. I realized this about 1/2 way through as I put my hand in my pocket. My heart filled with dread and I feared having to say to him, ‘I have nothing to give.’ My being left the now and went into the future. Fear and dread were my companions.
As I approached where he usually was, he was not there. More fear, more dread, where could he be? I did not find him that day, nor any other day for a long while.
After that I stopped walking. I went about my usual life of teaching music, and giving lectures at schools about the fiddle vs the violin. Life went on, but I always wondered what happened to the homeless man I had known, I missed him, his blue eyes.
One day I was giving lectures at a Montessori school about the fiddle / violin. The children were as usual fun with wide eyes and eager smiles. They clapped to my music, they danced, they listened. I loved this kind of interaction.
The last lecture was with 3, 4, and 5 year olds. It was the end of the day and some parents had come early to see my presentation. As the children dispersed at the end, going to their parents I saw him, the homeless man, I saw his eyes, except they were attached to a well-groomed, well dressed man, but it was him. A young girl was in his arms. She called him Grandpa. She had his eyes. He smiled at me, warmly and put her down. She ran to her parents who were standing nearby.
He took my hands in his and said “It’s so good to see you again. I love your music. Thank You”
I said ‘you’re welcome’ to him, and then asked him for what. He explained.
“When I met you several years ago now, I was living on the street, unhappy and unable to really live. I had PTSD and had lost my family because of it. Too much drink, not enough hope. You gave me hope, m’dear.”
“Just by giving you money?” I asked him not believe this.
“No, more than that.” he said kindly. I realized I had never heard his voice before, gentle, kind, deep. He continued “I used to sit and listen to you play at night. In an ugly world I heard beauty in your music, and hope. I saw you from your window. And then you started to see me when you walked the neighborhood. Most people just looked the other way, right through me, but not you, we had a connection. I appreciated that, and somehow that gave me courage to find the help I needed.”
The small child came over to her grandfather, “Time to go, Grandpa. Time to GO!” She pulled at him having taken his hand.
He crouched down to her, and kindly said, “a minute I’ll be right with you.” He was enamored of her, and she of him. She went back to her parents as he stood up and continued, “Never doubt that music like yours can heal a poor old soul. Now I have my family back, and a good life, thank you.” His voice was kind, full of love, and hope. His blue eyes danced with life, and were as ever beautiful, now full of love instead of despair. He walked to the woman, man, and child. The mother walked to me.
Her dark brown eyes looked into my own. “You do play beautifully. Thank you, you gave me my father back, and my daughter has a grandfather. He has told us often of your kindness, how you took time to see him even at his worst, and that that helped him, and your music how it lifted him.” She shook my hand, and her gaze was full of kindness and love.
“You are welcome.” is all I could manage to say to her.
Her husband also said thank you to me and I watched them walk away, together, the child in her grandfather’s arms laughing with delight, and I knew all was well.