The girls were in elementary school when they began piano lessons. We purchased an old upright piano through a music school and it found its home in our playroom. The tinkle of simple practice sessions and newly learned musical pieces floated through the house, usually in cramming sessions before each lesson.
Over time the lessons faded and the piano remained quietly unused, stoically displaying family photos and a plant or two.
Many times I sat at my computer, phoning various organizations to offer our old piano as a donation. But each time we were faced with a “Yes Please!!” and then the reality of having to cover the cost of moving it ourselves, somewhere in the neighborhood of $500 to $600 dollars. And so the piano remained and I began to think of it as a problem and a nuisance.
Almost 15 years later our house is going through a huge sort out and clean up. There have been countless trips to donation centers, the recycling bin is sweating from heavy usage, a large dumpster is being filled, and Junkluggers took away a large truck load of things for recycling and reusing. And still, there sat the piano.
But I have to say that the huge cleaning out project has coincided (perhaps not accidentally) with some remarkable movement in all areas of our lives. Things are happening fast and easily, old to-do lists are getting shorter and the full schedule seems to facilitate even more being accomplished. And so on Sunday night at 10 PM I placed an ad on Craig’s List, offering our old piano, for free, to anyone willing to organize their own transportation.
By Monday morning at 11 AM I had about 15 responses, and there were a couple of heartfelt ones. Someone offering information about a non-profit that would cover transportation costs, another sharing how their piano had been lost in a house fire, and yet another who felt the piano would be great for their child to learn on. But one woman’s emails caught my attention. She had written twice and her determination just knocked me over. I called her and answered her questions about the history of the piano, it’s overall condition, and when she could pick it up.
At 8 PM Monday evening she arrived in a large truck with four strapping men to move the piano out the house. They were all so happy and excited that it felt like a moving party. I asked them to be especially careful and safe since they had to carry it down two flights of stairs from the front door to the driveway. In less than 10 minutes the piano was safely in the truck, and Christine and I were chatting excitedly about life, the outdoors, and her love of playing the piano since she was young. It turned out that a couple of the men shared her love of music, and as we talked, from the darkness inside the still open truck, music flowed. They were taking turns playing our old piano. I wish they could have stayed longer so we could linger in the sweet sound of the notes.
My gratitude was overflowing. My ‘problem and nuisance’ had evaporated almost instantly, and as it did, I felt a fondness for the piano that I had never experienced before. With the burden of its presence released, it revealed itself for what it was, the possibility of music. For all those years, it sat without complaint as a simple and beautiful possibility. Everything else about it had been a contribution of my mind. And so standing in the driveway, as it’s gift was brought out of remission, I felt such appreciation.
I found myself feeling overwhelmed by the sincere and deep gratitude of this group of people. They were over-joyed at their apparent good luck and were looking forward to making the piano part of a home and were all excited about having opportunities to play it.
And so as we said our goodbyes we were all immersed in profound gratitude, and a group of complete strangers were hugging and smiling and saying thank-you.
And then it was gone. I am very surprised to feel a sense of sadness. Perhaps I have not fully appreciated all the memories that were associated with the old piano, and how it bore witness to our children growing up with us and the parade of pets that maneuvered around it. But there lingers with me that brief interaction with a small group of people who magnified an experience of gratitude. And that is simply music to my heart.