07 May Please Do Not Shoot the Pianist – May 2020
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.
Attributed to Philo
In 1882, Oscar Wilde, on a lecture tour, spoke at the Tabor Opera house in Leadville, Colorado, at the time a major center of silver mining.
Wilde later recounted a visit to a local saloon, “where I saw the only rational method of art criticism I have ever come across. Over the piano was printed a notice – ‘Please do not shoot the pianist. He is doing his best.'”
Leadville, Colorado. (2013, December 2). In
Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.
In our COVID-19 world, nearly two months into quarantine, many of us are beset with fear and anger. The feelings arise in us, and our mind looks for the cause. And there are so many candidates to choose from. I’ve spoken with people who feel at the mercy of their spouse, their 18 year old, their 8 year old, their 4 year old. People livid about the government and its response; or livid at the people who have a negative view of the government and its response. People angry at the disease, at the world, at God, at themselves. And people afraid they will never work again, never feel comfortable again, never feel safe again.
The mind will tell me a story about why I feel the way I feel, and I will look through the lens of that story at this world, and it will pit me against… everything. Through the lens of self, it really is me vs. the whole of what is. Me against the world/galaxy/universe/Totality.
In this paradigm, there is no ‘winning.’ There is only constant, never-ending battle against whatever happens to be standing in front of me.
Remember The Wild Ones?
“Hey, Johnny, what are you rebelling against?”
“What’ve you got?”
We are not meant to live like this, to be ‘against’ each other, against the world. Communication means ‘to share.’ Sharing with each other leaves us feeling enlivened. ‘Opinionating’ and judging leaves us feeling drained.
It’s a given that everyone always is doing the best they can in every moment. Most people are not trying to be rude; and the times they are, it’s a given that they have some reason in their own speculating mind about why they’re doing it. To some it seems that these days, more people than usual are being mean, are taking care of themselves first and sorry if you happen to be in the way. To others, it may seem the opposite. But in every case, we’re all doing the best we can.
If we insist on listening to the endless speculation in our mind, we might have the momentary satisfaction of a resentment that someone ‘deserves;’ but we will guarantee that we will not find any peace for ourselves. If, however, we can let go of identification with our thinking and into the flow of spirit that moves through us always, we might find ourselves able to let someone off the hook; understand that someone isn’t being an ass, but maybe is just scared; pause before reacting, knowing that this other person is spirit, too. That they are behaving as well as they can possibly behave. And that, with the proper space and encouragement, perhaps they, too, might want to act from the place of love.
Today I will listen to my friend, rather than to my thoughts about her. I will pay attention to the world, rather than to my thoughts about the world. I will step out of thinking and judgment again and again and again, as many times as it takes, and I will bring myself fully present to the moment, knowing that love and inner peace is available here and now, and that the future, by and large, will take care of itself.