I was sitting in a room that smelled of my great grandmother's home. I remembered that smell distinctly; it was that odd smell when I last saw her, at the age of ninety six. The room smelled of her fickle body, the feeble remains of a once strong woman. It was the smell of the dying. There was a lady sitting across from me, my only audience member. She reminded me of my great grandmother - although there must have been an age gap of at least twenty years. She was ill - too ill to speak. She was counting down her days before she moved on from this world. I knew nothing about her, and yet when I looked over I saw her entire face filled with tears. She couldn't hide herself.
The joy I felt when seeing her tears could not be explained. In my own despair, I had played a piece that shook her. Playing my darkest composition had stirred her soul, much as it had mine. There was something strangely satisfying in hearing this somber piano music after a hard day. The music had its way of calming you; it was cathartic. Allowing yourself to hear it, to feel it, and to truly take it in had a way of healing you.
I entered this Hospice home every week. I couldn’t understand why, or what had gotten into me. How is it that I looked forward to playing piano for the dying each week? I didn’t know any of these people. Shouldn’t I be going out and enjoying a drink with my friends? I had started volunteering as a pianist to make a difference in people's lives. After all, when sifting through data all day in my office job, my workdays consisted of focusing entirely on analysis, numbers and hypothetical insights. I was longing to do something, anything, with meaning outside of the office, something that would truly touch a fellow human being.
That day, I felt an unusual solace in playing that composition of mine. I was playing forcefully, with passion. There was no such thing as volume control. Despite the house keeper’s repeated instructions to play soothing background music, my performance must have shaken up the entire house. “Slipping Away” was what I named this composition. The time these residents had left here was slipping away. Close relationships and bonds that I was holding on to after my recent move were slipping away. At the time I had written the song, I felt as though everything was slowly slipping away.
And yet, it was this moment, when I hit the last note of that composition, looking over at the resident sitting across from me, this rare moment where I felt redeemed. The entire world around me was slipping away, and yet in this fleeting moment my heart was full. I felt content. In playing a song of the soul, I had undoubtedly impacted this suffering lady. This may have been the last song that the Hospice resident across from me would hear before moving on, it may have been her last chance to recount a painful memory before letting it go. Stopping by that house, which reeked of the sick, had been the most satisfying part of my day.
It was a moment like this where the power of music could not have been more exposed, and a moment like this where I felt immensely grateful for the healing effects of a few somber piano notes.
Slipping Away will be released as the first composition on my upcoming album 'Songs of the Soul'.