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old things in new ways - new things in old ways
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Profile of funsway
There seems to be a connection between guitars and magicians ..

so, I offer this story


Some folks are afraid of shadows – rightfully so. Others rejoice is their mystery – as they should. It is the rare spirit that listens to shadows and the music they embrace. There are other shadow options, of course, but these three are enough for a story. A story is a shadow too …

Forget the music for a moment or three and focus on what your eyes know of shadows. Light allows you to perceive the existence of an object, while shadows provides texture and dimension. What you can’t see is more important than what you can. Take away the light and the object disappears. Too much light achieves the same results. Two different illusions since the object is still there. The difference is that your memory of the object is only that which the shadows allow.

Consider a tree – one with bark you can grab and climb if you were still a kid. Hug the tree in cherish like you did back then before you were taught to be afraid. Now stand back from that tree the length of its shadow at sunrise. Your eyes will perceive only the silhouette. Yet, you know of the bark and the rough – your memory allowing a seeing into the shadows beyond the limits of vision. If there is any mystery it comes from having never hugged a tree. If there is any fear it comes from primordial twinges of what a tree can hide or mask in its branches. These too are shadows.

Somewhere between the light that blinds and the darkness never explored is a range of perceptions called living. I could also be speaking of your soul but that is a different illumination. Just accept that you are actually a shadow cast by many sources of energy only a couple of which you can consciously embrace. Your feeble senses can only see the silhouette while you strive to make intelligent guesses as to the truth of things.

Back to the music and a story.

Ryan was fairly normal by cultural standards – not necessarily anything to be proud of – just an appraisal by the lack of distinction. He accepted most of what he learned in school as valid while distrusting most of what any “expert” said. He knew what music was since he had been taught that certain combinations of noise and rhythm were called that. He was amused by claims that a certain song was “good” while a performance by a certain group was “bad.” He knew what he liked but rarely expressed that opinion, thereby condemned to endure what others thought to be good or appropriate music. He also heard noises from nature and machinery that he thought very musical but kept that opinion a secret. He secretly composed music in his head to incorporate the secret notes – or imagined that he did. Does a melody never played ever really exist? Is a song never shared even noise – surely not music. In contrast, does a melody heard that touches the heart and remembered ever die? He harbored a notion that music actually had nothing to do with the refinement of noise, that the music was already inside and that a combination of notes just triggered the release.

One day Ryan felt a song prancing through the trees at the park. He followed. An elderly man nestled in the bole of a tree cradling a classical guitar playing with his fingers. Part of the magic was the skill of fingers moving so fast. Part was hearing three melodies entwined on a single instrument. Part was realization that he was hearing notes not plucked on the strings at all! He closed his eyes and any thought of a simple guitar faded away. Was the music he heard the light or the shadow? When he opened his eyes the man was gone. How long after the ending of notes had he heard the music?

He explored this phenomenon on the Internet but found nothing but opinions on which guitar was best. He spoke to music teachers who lost interest upon finding that he played no instrument and couldn’t “carry a tune in a bucket.” He spend hours at the library listening to various instruments but could not reproduce the experience. Finally, he purchased a used guitar and attempted to teach himself to play. Chords were easy, pure notes more difficult – music impossible! In the park strangers dropped money in his case to get him to stop! Frustrated, he just lay on the bench with the guitar over his face to shield from the storm. At least the drumming of the rain resembled notes. Music formed in his mind. He turned to hold the pale spruce face against his ear. It was natural to doze off.

Ryan leapt to his feet with a startled cry – tears of joy blending with the torrent of drops and sound. The music he heard was not his imagination. Every note ever plucked on the strings was still echoing inside the guitar! Every chord a memory of its maple soul. Each melody a gifting of the spirit strings. The guitar was now protected beneath his coat and he was engulfed by silence – not the absence of sound, just a pause between the blessed notes. Later he carefully dried and caressed the instrument for fear the shadow music might be damaged by his carelessness. For the first time he noticed the faded label inside – the signature of the luthier who had lovingly crafted it and a number.

The shop was smaller than he had envisioned – made even smaller by the wall hangings of instruments, frames, molds, tools and racks of wood. Ryan did not say anything – just sat on a stool and watched. Others came by to swap stories or have some damage repaired. One ordered a custom guitar to be built – haggling over wood and tuners and design but never price. Bits of songs were offered for a test of strings or action – a prompting for another story or shaving of “wood-turned” wisdom. At fading sunset Ryan was asked if he planned to sit there all night. He shrugged and the luthier pointed to a pile of towels and rags, shut off the lights and wandered to the house behind the shop. Ryan should have been hungry but was not. By moonlight he walked to each instrument and touched it, yearning to take it down and listen to its soul. He was not that disrespectful and did not know how to ask permission of a guitar. He did not understand why he had been allowed to stay – didn’t know how to ask that question either – or to whom to direct the plea? Finally he slept.

I could tell you that during the night the luthier returned and played music for him alone. I could share that each guitar on the wall released its memoried music to Ryan’s quest. I could venture that the spirit of each instrument came down to sit with him a while and caress his soul. But, this is not a ghost story. What you believe will by guided by light and shadow and dreams and silence between the notes.

What I can relate as fact is that Ryan spent his last years sitting in the park whittling willow whistles and gifting them to children – and laughing with the rustling leaves and dancing in the rain. Some say he was crazy but no one questioned the love in his eyes. Everyone who passed him by began to hum a tune or add a dance step to their stride. But maybe that was just a trick of the shadows.
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst

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