You recall the saying, “Man plans, G-d laughs”? I think I heard him laughing at me. You see, I often play like I’m shallow. I pretend that I don’t think about things. I wave my hands and act like it’s no big deal. But the problem is, sometimes I forget that I’m supposed to play like I’m shallow. Not be shallow.
I had decided that he was obstinate. Strong willed over things that didn’t matter. I had decided that he just enjoyed being that way. I decided that every time he approached me with yet another pesky question, that he was doing it because he had nothing better to do.
Then I heard it. The piano. The sounds coming from down the hall. I knew the room had a piano, but I didn’t think anyone was playing the piano. But the song went on, and there was a key stroke mistake, so I got up to look. There he was.
Playing a tune. Playing it well. Really well. Perhaps not concert well, but I wasn’t paying for a concert seat, and he’d certainly had several years of practice on me. Fifteen years, I would find out.
I found out from a conversation I had with him. You see, for all the times I see him, for all the times we exchange words and pleasantries, I’ve never talked with him. After this song, after I complimented listening to a tune which I really enjoyed, we talked. Or rather, he talked. I had sense enough to listen.
He talked about his parents. His father had been the only person in the family to survive a horrible war. We talked about his college experience, and his career, from which he had become disillusioned and found a way for an early retirement. We talked about his likes, and his loves, and his pursuit of things he thought would make him a better person, and we talked about his joy of piano playing. Mostly my words, not his, but that’s sort of what I took from it.
The whole time I thought I knew him, I didn’t know him at all. I could almost see G-d looking at me, laughing at me, laughing at my shallowness. I had thought he was one level of a person, and it turned out I was one level of a person. He gave me a gift of listening to the song, for which he had practiced. And he gave me a gift of a moment of insight. Just a moment, a snapshot, nothing more. It was enough. It was a beautiful snapshot.
I could hear G-d laughing.