Several days ago on our way to the Ruohonjuuri shop in Itäkeskus to buy licorice tea we saw a middle aged man, a foreigner, playing the violin. My 6 year old son instantly asked me whether we could give him some money. I checked my bag and pockets, found some change, and my son went to put the coins in the man’s hat. The man smiled at us and said “kiitos” with a slight accent. We continued our way to the shop. My son asked me why some people are poor. “They probably cannot find work, there is not enough work for everyone”, I heard myself saying. ”Then he found his own work, the playing is his work”, concluded my son.
When we bought our licorice tea we stopped by the musician once more and listened. The little square was full of people but nobody seemed to be really listening. People rushed here and there lost in their thoughts. Some of them may not have even noticed the violinist at all, nor even have have heard his music.
When the song ended I applauded. It was a quiet applause as I was the only one applauding. But the man noticed, smiled and started to play again. This time he played for us. Ochi chornyje (Dark eyes). The music he played was incredibly beautiful, he played like a concert virtuoso. I was flooded with the full range of emotions. I immediately felt the sorrows of the whole world. Tears were coming to my eyes and I tried to push them back to avoid my son wondering why his mummy was crying. I also wondered about the musician’s own sorrows. What circumstances brought him to the street ? What is his life’s story ?
Behind each of our lives is a story. Different conditions brought us to where we are. If A did not happen, B would never come into existence. Instead of C, our lives would turn in a different direction. How fragile are our assurances. How easily today’s happiness may be turned into tomorrow’s grief.
Next time you pass by a street musician, stop and listen for a while. You may find in the sound of music the most precious moment of your day.
Thank you for that moment, unknown violinist.