I've been really interested in learning music for the past few months — learning the language of it to be able to speak and connect with it (and with others) in a different way. I have this dream of being able to use music to bring people together and communicate in new-to-me ways.
On Friday, I was still working at 7 and realized I needed to call it a week, so I packed up my backpack and a chair and some books to go watch sunset on Belle Isle. On a whim, I thought to bring my new baby Taylor, a gift from my aunt.
When I arrived at the island, I thought I might play some songs and sing to the River, which is exactly what I did.
The clouds were magnificent on Friday and the water was dark blue and bumpy like the sides of fast-swimming whales. The golden light was. . . golden. And fiery. And the greens were popping and people were out and walking in the grass and holding hands and looking like new love and Love love. An older version of me would NEVER play music in public, let alone sing. But there I was, singing to the water, having a good ole time.
Then I noticed a man, a big, strong-lookin' man with a big camera and a small toddler standing on a rock, walking back and forth, glancing at me — furtively? — and I'm not very good at picking up on signals but this was not even subtle the dude was checking me out. He kept looking at me. And then I was pretty sure his camera was pointed at me and I'm not gonna lie I was kinda like "WTF dude?" but I just ignored him and kept playing and singing to the water.
After ten minutes or so, they left. It was clear he was having some kind of weird hesitation about something but he left, and little daughter went trailing behind on a foot-powered tricycle. 5 minutes later, they reappeared and the Very Large Man said, in a heavily Russian-accented voice "Hello! I am Dmitry! I took pictures of you! I take pictures. For fun. And you — you were the most interesting thing happening here it seemed like. Can I send you the pictures?"
I said "Sure!" and we chatted for a few minutes about photography (one of my old passions) and what equipment he was using, and life in quarantine and the importance of creative outlets and expression, and guitar and music (he used to be in a band in Russia) and what we were really saying without saying was "My god I have missed people." and "My god. We are so clearly hardwired for connection. This year has been hard. So many connections have been impossible. But we haven't lost the drive to reach out. And here we are, doing the thing, a bit knock-kneed and wobbly, but doing it. And it feels like fresh water after a long drought."
It was simple, kinda random, kinda weird, kinda not the order of consent I usually feel comfortable with, but nevertheless delightfully human, spontaneous, and ultimately connected. Also, Dmitry has an eye — I would give him high marks on composition and color. I also like his subject a lot more than I used to.
Aaron Handelsman is a professional coach, organizational consultant and facilitator.