Some Days I feel Things Almost too Much
Some days I feel things almost too much — as if I am on the brink of breaking apart into a zillion fragments, like one of those exploded diagrams of an engine in a repair manual so the reader can see all the parts. Everything seems more intense and colourful — deeply darker yet somehow lighter too. Everyone I see on those days becomes a part of this process. Today is one of those days. I saw anelderly man in the street playing Bach’s solo Sonatas and Partitas on his viola (though they are really for violin). Apart from the beauty of the music (and he dances while playing them — twirling around and swooping and jumping), there is a light in his eyes as if he shares a little joke with the world somehow. There is a sadness in him too, as if he has known deep tragedy and loss; but though it has left its scar it has also deepened his insight and grown his humanity. Throwing some money in his instrument case, I told him I was in the mood for Bach’s epic Chaconne from the Partita no.2 and he said “You want it. You’ll get it” and he launched into it. When he’d finished he looked at me triumphantly with that sparkle. I said “Nathan Milstein would be proud”. He replied “You look like him!” I said: “But he’s dead”. He leaned towards me with an increased twinkle and said conspiratorially “We’re all dead” and we both burst into laughter. A smartly-dressed woman standing nearby with her Dalmatian dog stared at us in disbelief. But he and I know what death is. One can only know it from the inside. It cannot be explained. I went on my way and wept with melancholic joy as I watched the leaves falling from the trees alongside the river. I was on my way to meet two beautiful women for lunch. Fortunately, when I got there, my sunglasses hid the redness of my eyes until they had cleared. Later that day, I was in the crowded u-bahn (metro, underground train) and it suddenly came to a standstill in the tunnel and switched off its engine. We were packed like sardines in a tin. A couple of minutes went by. Then a woman near me caught my eye. She was starting to panic. I could see it in her face, which was frozen like that of a deer in approaching headlights. With every atom of my being I beamed comfort and security to her. My eyes spoke to her of open mountain scenes in which music plays across green valleys. I saw the fear melt from her face and she smiled at me with a thank you face. No words passed between us. (I would never speak to a woman who I don’t know on a train unless she first spoke to me. For I would only want her to feel safe and secure). But no words were necessary. I love incidents like that. They seem to happen more readily and frequently on my “feel things almost too much days”. It was not a coincidence that I was placed next to that frightened woman. The syncronicitous significance of these events — the viola player, the frightened woman — are not lost on me. So far, I have never felt things “too much”, only “almost” too much. If it was “too much” then my whole being would disintegrate and never reintegrate! But it seems to be controlled from somewhere, ensuring that it is never more than I can take (though sometimes almost so) and that it will always be ultimately fruitful. This is the nectar of life. Don’t you love it?