Here Comes the Sun

I saw it the other night as I was walking to my gate in the St. Louis airport.⁣

⁣“Play me,” it said. Literally.⁣

Along the wall of the concourse, across from a large waiting area, was an old upright piano, painted in bright colors. The sign next to it invited passersby to plunk out a tune.⁣

"Shit,” I thought, knowing that it was talking to me. ⁣

A teacher/mentor of mine once encouraged us to stretch our concepts of ourselves. He gave us the homework to do “something that we would never do.” (For me, at the time, it was getting out of my seat on a plane when the seat belt sign was on. I’m SUCH a rule follower.)⁣

Playing piano in a public place, uninvited/unsanctioned by those around me, intruding on their personal space, unsure of their approval/permission, calling attention to myself, and not sure I could do it “right,” definitely fell into that category.⁣

Mind you, I can play the piano―some. I just don’t get much practice these days, and there aren’t too many songs that I can still make my way through without multiple mistakes. The last time I recall playing in public (besides at a bar at Burning Man in the middle of the night, to earn a drink) was at my parents’ respective funerals. And that took some practice. ⁣

Clearly, this was my moment. I headed toward the piano. ⁣

Aaaand I walked right on by. I have plenty of time, I thought. Best to go check the situation at the gate with my constantly-shifting delayed flight first. ⁣⁣

Turned out, it was still late. The earliest expected departure was in an hour. So I headed back.⁣

An older gentleman and his wife were parked in front of it now. I had seen them earlier. He was a big guy with longish unkempt white hair, and she was tiny, staring into space, lost in quiet reverie behind her thick glasses. He had been slowly pushing their carry-ons on a wheelchair with one hand as he held her hand tenderly with the other.⁣

Now, he was seated at the piano, playing with just one hand while his wife clasped the other. She was facing away from him, still straining after whatever unseen finger was beckoning her.⁣

I left them to it and went to find supper and a fortifying glass of cabernet. When I finished, it was nearly 10 PM. My plane was expected soon, but hadn’t yet arrived. I knew I had time and a special opportunity here. So, I steeled myself and headed back down the concourse. ⁣

It was waiting for me, patiently. Across the walkway, the quiet seating area was about a third full, people lost in their phones and books. It doesn’t matter what they think of me, I told myself. I’ll never see them again.⁣

Still standing, I leaned over the bench, and started picking out the tune to the Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun.” Not too intrusively. Just one hand playing the melody line, and, as it came back to me, gently adding chords with the other hand. I played a little louder.⁣

Now, here’s where, in my alternate (maybe future?) life, I would write about how I then dropped my backpack on the floor, sat down on the bench, and started playing with gusto. Some people behind me started humming along, quietly first, and then singing with full-throated joy. A few of the more adventurous ones gathered around the piano and we ended with a mighty crescendo and flourish. Hugs and smiles were exchanged, info was traded, new Facebook friends were made.⁣

But that’s in that other life. Tonight, I just hovered over the piano, gently picking out the notes until I was done. And, as I did, it occurred to me that maybe someone in that sitting area needed to hear it, needed a nudge, a whisper of hope carried on a remembered melody. So I played for them.⁣

Little darling, it's been a long cold lonely winter⁣⁣
Little darling, it feels like years since it's been here⁣⁣

Here comes the sun⁣⁣
Here comes the sun, and I say⁣⁣
It's all right⁣⁣

Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces⁣⁣
Little darling, it seems like years since it's been here⁣⁣

Here comes the sun⁣⁣
Here comes the sun, and I say⁣⁣
It's all right⁣⁣

Or maybe not. Perhaps no one out there was hungry for that reminder. Maybe the someone who needed to hear it was just me. And if that was indeed the case,

I say ⁣⁣
It’s all right.⁣