I wrote you, dear reader, about my first time being hospitalized in Cambridge, MA. I didn’t go into much detail. But today I will. I met a young man there, a hospitalization veteran. Not that he was in the service, but he had had many battles with hospitalizations. You could see it in his nonchalance and apathy towards the insulting classes they have you attend.
Imagine, having battled your Dark Night of the Soul, or your unfathomable unconscious or whatever other incredibly heroic and terrifying psychic trip you’ve been on, only to have a cookie-cutter, emotionally repressed grad student speak to you like they know what the hell they’re talking about because they read it in a medical textbook. Like those big pharma publications are the gospel truth. Get outta here!
Well, Robert Cayne had the look in his eyes I was feeling in my spirit. We immediately gravitated towards each other. He saw me piddling around on the upright piano they had and came into the tiny room and asked, “May I?” And then he played. And did he ever play.
Robert was a classically-trained concert pianist from a wealthy family in Cambridge. Not that wealth has much to do with it, but it does afford you the time to practice. And he was incredible. All the medication I needed was in that “Quiet Room” and in his playing. I was fortunate, he was not the typical overly-cerebral technical player, he played from someplace deeper. I thank God Robert was there my first time in a hospital.
Robert had not listened to recorded music in some time, so he and I paced the narrow hallway, back and forth, while we shared a single pair of headphones and listened to my iPod. He liked Leonard Cohen, so we listened and walked. And walked and listened. And took meds at the nursing station and walked and listened some more. Our bodies were imprisoned but our spirits were free.
And now, thanks to the miracle of modern technology, Robert and I have kept in touch via Gmail. He lives in poverty now, like me, but is not able to work as I am. He now paints.
I’ve asked him several times to buy one of his pieces or to fly here so we can record a song. But he says he’s too emotionally attached to his work and just laughs me off about recording. I think it would be incredibly romantic and maybe a great work of musical art, but one never knows until one tries. That’s how dreams are born or die. By the trying.
He sent me an Isaac Maimon painting and I immediately saw the influence.
And so life goes on, and every pebble dropped in the water leaves its ripples.