“I can’t change the direction of the wind but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” –Jimmy Dean
I believe that the air of serenity could be enjoyed only if we learn how to surrender and not to fill our minds with anxious uncertainties.
Now let me share one incident that made me almost crazy until I succumbed to chaos.
One Sunday afternoon, I and my two youngest daughters, attended (traditional/cultural) dancing lessons at the studio of our second teacher, Tita Gay.
“Tita, my husband will pick us up late today.” I said at the end of the lesson.
“No problem. You can stay for a while.” She offered.
“Come inside.” She opened the door for us.
Tita’s residence was built just a few steps away from her own private dance studio.
I had brought packed meals. After dinner, we enjoyed chatting about the many things we had in common: books, art, food, dance and motherhood.
The night was getting darker.
“Tita, it’s getting late.” I did not want to take advantage of my teacher by overstaying my welcome.
“Joy, do not worry feel at home.” She replied.
All this time, Hannah who had been awfully tired, had slept on Tita’s long wooden armed bench while Cay, a late sleeper, was still awake. She sat on the far right side of the bench, beside her sleeping sister.
I embraced the idle moments by reading a book. I broke the silence after an hour. “Tita, we must be taking up too much of your time.” I was a bit drowsy.
“I am a night person. I go to bed after midnight.” She stood up from her working table to use the washroom.
When she returned she said, “I think I’d better play a short piece for you guys. I played the piano before retiring.”
Tita enthusiastically sat down at her old piano and started playing. Cay excitedly stood at the left side of the piano, watching her play.
I hadn’t known she was an accomplished pianist. The melodic tunes interrupted the silent night and startled my sleepy eyes to wakefulness.
“Wow! Tita, that’s wonderful!” I was shocked.
“I played this when I was in high school, I still remember it.” She proudly replied.
“Tita, I never thought you were a good pianist. Your talent is such a God-send!”
The uplifting notes stimulated my being; I love sound that moves my spirit. Now I was stroked by the tunes, almost carried beyond them.
As a frustrated pianist, I was haunted by do re mi.
“Stillness in motion,” was how Tita Gay described her dancing steps to her students. But the cold wind that entered the screen door of her small patio, playing with my senses as I revelled in the music, was “motion in stillness,” whispering to me to relax and enjoy the night.
“Tita, are you really playing a short piece? You must be tired.” I was concerned. She laughed. “Actually my fingers are already tired, but this is almost finished.”
She continued playing.
Now I was going insane!
Pacing to and fro in the living room, my imagination ran wild:
People were enjoying Tita’s party, chatting, tossing back drinks and swaying with the music.
But there was no one to talk to since she lived all alone in her house.
Striving for stillness, I whispered to her, “Tita, please take a rest.” She smiled and pretended to hit the surface of the keynotes silently and slowly, making me quiet. I calmed down as the tones faded gradually.
As I sat beside my still sleeping daughter, Hannah, I was surprised by the altered tunes.
Tita was hitting the notes harder now! The beat was getting even faster, livelier!
I was disturbed:
How could I make her stop? What if she collapsed? What if something happen to her and people got the wrong idea? We were the last ones to have been with her today.
I was speechless as I gazed at her. My mixed emotions were captured by a mix of melodies created by masters like Mozart, Bach, and Vivaldi.
Dancing improved my mind-set. But my tranquillity seemed to be damaged!
“Tita, it’s getting too late. Is it okay with your neighbours?” No answer.
Tita was bopping her head up and down.
She must be in ecstasy!
“Tita, are you okay? I tried to erase my wild imagination.
But wait! Was it really Tita who was playing the piano? Or had she been possessed by a spirit?
Tita’s mind-blowing melody made the night brighter and brought it alive. Indeed, I enjoyed it.
But now my heart was beating fast as I heard a livelier melody. My fun turned into a nightmare; grabbed by weird thoughts.
A few more minutes passed.
“Yes, my neighbours are used to it. Every time they hear me play they will say, ‘Oh Gay is in concert again,’” Tita replied at last.
I heaved a sigh of relief.
There was no way for me to stop a seventy year old teacher who seemed to be in another world.
I rubbed Hannah’s back instead. My youngest had been awakened by the lively melodies while Cay had never left her post; the tunes made Cay wide-awake as she breathlessly watched Tita’s fingers gliding quickly over the keyboard.
I gave up. I had no choice but to remain silent. I closed my eyes and relaxed on the bench beside Hannah, turning the lively music into a soulful, soothing sound.
“Let it flow,” I murmured.
I realized the essence of peace and learned a tiny wisdom:
Nothing moves except by the will of the Most Powerful.
To create silence in chaos, I must surrender.
Now I became the “flow.” I let Tita play on as long as she wished. Nothing could transform my anxious soul but embracing a chaotic silence as a glorious experience. So I did.
It was close to midnight.
“This is almost done.” Tita gently ended a long piece.
“Thanks a lot for your time, Tita. You are such a fantastic pianist!”
It was time to leave. I heard the car beep as it parked outside.
“Okay Joy. See you all next week.” She said happily.
We kissed, hugged one another and waved goodbye. What an unforgettable night for me!