Sunday, 11 August 2013

Fragility and Brilliance

The long, loud applause had finished, I think it was after the second song, but because there were several movements to the piece, I wasn't quite sure if it was the Concerto or the Sonata. Turning to the very well dressed lady next to me, quietly & politely asked if David had just finished the second piece. Was trying to follow the program but was already lost in his amazing music and the complexity of Bach & Beehthoven.

In perfectly spoken, well educated English with a condescending tone, she told me it was the, "Appasionata" that Helfgott had just finished playing. Her tone denoted superiority with a hint of irritation that I dare ask her, a stranger.

Instantly I felt belittled. Then quickly made note to self,  never speak to anyone like she did me. A fleeting 10 second exchange that communicated such potent arrogance. Perhaps I am being a little too harsh on the lady. Perhaps I really am ignorant of the intricacies of Beethoven's piano sonata no.23 in F minor, but it got me thinking......

Here we were, Deep Waters {DW} & I at David Helfgott's regional concert in our own humble, home town of Redcliffe. Here was David on stage performing with his incredible brilliance as a concert pianist and yet his incredible fragility in his mental illness. For any of you that are old enough to have seen his life portrayed in the movie, Shine {1996} will be familiar with his story.

I had to hunt high & low to find a DVD store that stocked Shine. It was a pre-requisite must for DW to see BEFORE the concert. The movie provided the background context to help appreciate & understand David's quirky idiosyncrasies.  Our 3 local stores didn't stock it. I realised most girls working at the DVD stores weren't even born when the movie was released! No wonder they looked at me strangely when I asked if it was in store. So yesterday!

As he performs with amazing energy {for his now 66yrs} he mumbles away and his entry on stage is always with excessive bows and thumbs up, almost childlike. I am not sure what struck me the most, his absolute breathtaking piano prowess or his exquisite vulnerability?

He brought both to the stage, it was so beautiful. Profoundly impacting. Moving. Memorable. How opposite attributes could co-exist and he could overcome his illness to bring his remarkable gift and love of music to share was so inspiring.

I have always thought life one great paradox. This confirmed it yet again. In David's brilliance was such fragility. The suffering of mental illness to the point of institutionalisation, and giving up music. Yet in finding love through Gillian {now his wife} he was restored. She encouraged him to play again. He has toured the world many times over delighting audiences with his musical genius and transparent personality.

Personally I would rather be like David, bringing my fragility than arrogance {appearance of having it altogether} to people. Humility is such a beautiful attribute. Pride makes people look and feel ugly, no matter how clever, smart, brilliant or stunning on the exterior. And it often devalues others {even in 10 seconds}. It's almost cliche, but it's true, it's what's on the inside that really counts. Being able to share that with others takes great honesty and courage. I admire both in David Helfgott.

Hoping as a parent to be able to impart this to my four. To love them enough to feel secure to bring their fragility, weaknesses and strengths to each situation. To never feel they have to be something they are not. The only failure in life is not trying. It is no small feat to try and fail, try and fail.

Mother Theresa says, "there are no great acts, just acts done with great kindness". Sometimes we need to be kind to ourself. At least in trying we know our capacity and/or limitations. It is not ok to not even try. Although sometimes in dark moments even trying seems overwhelming, in those times I hope there is someone there to comfort and love us back to a place of, "I think I can......"

Cherishing fragility
Cherishing vulnerability
Cherishing experiences that speak to us

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