The Magic of Capturing Universal Moments

Jeremy Denk, a renowned pianist and sometimes-member of the San Francisco Orchestra, writes an outstanding personal blog. His writing is extraordinary: like all good writers (or sitcoms – think Seinfeld), he captures universal moments in life and talks about them. There is something magical about reading the lucid impressions of a regular person who has appetite for the little things.

Here’s Jeremy while telling a simple story of getting a cup of coffee in San Francisco:

A feeling took hold. A quiet and focus, despite busy streets, and despite the caffeine ringing inside of me, and I could pay a great deal of attention that I don’t normally pay. I would live continually like this if I could. I had no desire to stop or alter the flow of the moment. (Totally irrelevant phrases to me right now: waiter bring the check; why don’t we grab a drink; what should we do next?) Proust, man, I thought, I know exactly where you’re coming from, I am so happy right now and I could feel two moments, now and some distant time, rubbing shoulders in their breezes, because the earlier afternoon, which had been totally forgotten, was not “remembered” so much as made totally alive within me: but only the essentials, and none of the facts. I felt still capable of whatever it was.

Here’s Jeremy on the Autobiography of a Practice Session:

I went to school for whys and wherefores. This was cruel, for I found myself multiplied into a thousand mes, each dissatisfied in his own way. But, in return, I began to be able to name my dissatisfactions. For instance, one particular C-sharp was "bumped," and therefore disrupted a certain "line;" a bassline began to present itself as "going to" a particular note, and "goals" were defined, everything began to organize itself into patterns… patterns dissolving into patterns … My life seemed to make sense, I seemed to attain purpose. Those were probably my halcyon days, with mornings spent at school learning about the phrases I was living, then bounding home, to my garage, covering myself in musical grease, tuning things up, getting things in order, wiping my sweaty brow in inspiration. I was a model of industry–solving, creating, recreating. Life existed, passed like a dream, in my flow.

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