Yesterday I had lunch with a friend of my mom’s who came to Berlin for an intensive tango course. Her name is also Rebecca but without an h, and I met her in August when my mom was in town and we hit it off. Today she’s flying back home to the “real” Northern California, as in five hours north of the Bay Area which still insists on calling itself NorCal, because they irrationally hate the folks down south.
We ate at my beloved Hallesches Haus which both of us agreed could just as easily be in California, with it’s made-with-love healthy grub and friendly, mostly native English speaking staff.
While I dug in to a scrumptious chick pea/eggplant/couscous stew, Rebecca told me a story about the Estonian composer Arvo Pärt (she once danced tango to one of pieces, which is both cool and hard to imagine.)
When he was a child, Rebecca told me Arvo Pärt played and wrote music on the piano they had at home, but there was a problem: the middle part of the piano keyboard was broken, which meant he could only use the highest and the lowest of the 88 keys.
You can really hear this in a lot of his pieces:
I’m not sure if the story is true or just a legend (couldn’t find it mentioned anywhere online), but it’s beautiful. It reminds me again why I’m an incurable optimist despite my better judgement. Even a broken keyboard can lead to inspiration.
But these days, even for people like me, it’s hard to see the glass as half full. Hell, it’s hard to even see it as half empty. It’s more like a glass in free fall, the world holding its breath, waiting for the inevitable shatter.
Which reminds me of another song I just listened to, Gil-Scott Heron’s Winter in America….
…a song written in 1974, the year I was born, and yet it’s talking about today.