It was dull and black, dried out from years of neglect, keys and parts of it scattered all around, pieces of the ornate leaf design laying on it's chipped and missing ledges. A little claw foot stool unstably proped nearby in much the same state of disrepair. My mom had taken me with her to help pick out a piano for my brother and I to practice on as we would soon be taking lessons from Ms. Harris, a stern old maid who was the new piano teacher in town.
In a flash I envisioned what it once was and could be again!
Some craftperson's hands had labored lovingly to create the beautiful instrument and I wanted to hear its sound. I imagined the home it must have once lived in when it was first created. A father playing, mother singing, smiling brightly and laughing with each other as their children played with toy drums, spoons, wooden cars, and baby dolls at their feet. I knew it could be restored to its former glory! I wanted that to be my family one day.
Out on the show floor, my mom had been explaining to the Piano Dr. our current financial situation since her mother had passed away and my father abandoned us forcing us to move due to foreclosure and bringing to light mounting debt that had resulted in bankruptcy the previous year. As I quietly came out of the back to rejoined them, she motioned to the shiny pianos lined up in the showroom and asked which one I wanted to take home. Those new pianos all looked about the same to me. They had no flare, no personality, and were probably built by a machine in a factory.
I looked at my mom and shook my head as I tugged her to the back and pointed at the broken one sitting in the corner yearning for attention. I pointed and said, "that one." She looked regretfully at me with love in her eyes and said, "oh honey, that one will probably never play again, he is likely using it for parts to repair other pianos...too bad because it is very lovely." But the piano Dr. who had followed us back interrupted exclaiming, "actually I am getting ready to restore that one, and it will have a better sound then any of the others." My eyes lit up! My mom hung her head, "I'm sure we could not afford that." But the piano Dr. explained we could buy one of the others to practice on until he finished the restoration and he would work out the pricing where it would not be much different, and since I loved it so much it needed to be with us, a payment plan could be arranged.
I was ecstatic! The first step toward my dream of a happy future family life.
Then the work began. Unfortunately, I was never very good at reading music. I had to number the notes to correlate with a number system my piano teacher and I came up with for my fingers. My brother took to it naturally though and beautiful music filled the house for a time. I can still hear the melody and refrain of one of the pieces I played for my first recital, "My Shadow and Me." A playful little conversation between the high and low keys. A move and a few years later the piano again became neglected as school studios, MTV, dial-up internet, friends, sports, and the opposite sex became more interesting to my brother and I.
Over the next few years the piano became more of a decorative piece of furniture than and instrument. Mom or myself faithfully dusted and oiled the tiger oak wood , but only occasionally did the keys get uncovered for practice singing something for church choir, creating little playful songs that were never written down, or to play "Mary Had A Little Lamb." (The only tune I could seem to always remember how to play after a couple tries.) It became "uncool" in my brothers friend group to play piano and he stopped altogether.
When my mom got remarried we had to move to an apartment and there was not room for the large instrument. She had her brother take it to a friend of hers who offered to store it until when again had room for the instrument as the intention was to eventually buy or build a house. My step father brought us back around the dinner table but the music stopped except my brother or I listening to it on our headphones in our rooms. I remember he and I saving up to jointly purchase the Smashing Pumpkins two part CD, "Bullet with Butterfly Wings". We began to connect to other people's words expressing emotions we connected to for some reason, but stopped expressing our own stories through song.
As high school ended, college began and another moved happened but there was no room for the piano in my parents new home. College ended, I got engaged, loaded up everything and headed toward California. But the piano was forgotten. Break-ups, deaths, divorce, depression, addiction, and multiple moves later for myself and my family and the piano had been all but forgotten.
Until I met a young musician at a festival we were working for and I was reminded of that vision for happy family life.
My mother remarried and it caused a fall out with the friend who had kept the piano in her home all these years. And when I attempted to recover the property she said it meant a lot now to her grandchildren as it had been played by her, her daughters, and them the years it had been in her house.
The piano found it's home, though not with me. The instrument became a symbol of what I want to create with a partner and a reminder to keep the expression of care and love flowing in order to realize this dream. Sometimes parts of ourselves or lives become like the dried out broke piano from neglect or rejection. These aspects hide in the shadows of our psyche, waiting for someone to once again embrace them so they can return to the light. This also happens to members of society when cast out, rejected, neglected, or parts of ourselves we reject and suppress.
The people or parts rejected act out or shut down when they can no longer function as the divine had intended. When they become decorative objects, loose their home, family, or community, and are no longer seen as instruments of expression. They often feel their purpose is lost or forget how to express themselves. But every part and person has a place and a song to express in the Symphony of the Universe. Sometimes all that is needed is for someone to see the potential and the beauty and believe restoration is possible and then find a good home/space full of love and care.
What is your part in the divine composition of expression? What parts of your soul need a little extra love and attention to feel safe returning and reintegrating? What can you do today to feel at home on this planet with your family and community?