Narrative Music that echoes in the hearts of others
It was a typical Monday morning for me. There is nothing better than starting the week off with a run through the city streets. It seems to get my blood flowing and make my mind more alert. I usually use this time to think and reflect, a little time for introspection to tame my wandering mind and ready me for the week ahead. As I breathed in the brisk morning air my eyes were drawn to the city above. The sun began to peek shyfully over and through the tall sky scrapers towering about, a deep silhouette of building after building with a Monet-like sky painted behind them. The air still smelled of the night's dew, and in spite of a little car exhaust lingering about, each breath was quite refreshing.
I jogged on, past the school bus stop where two kids were playing tug-of-war over a piece of candy. Behind them the old man was sweeping off the entrance to his bakery. There was a slight feeling of normalcy in the air followed by the fresh scent of cinnamon rolls. The sweet smell tempted me to stop for a snack, but I decided to push on. Several blocks later, when I approached the corner of Rosemary and Bloomingdale Avenues, my tired feet finally persuaded me to take a rest. The city bus station was just ahead, and one of the benches was looking awfully inviting. I sat down and hesitantly leaned back against the cold planks of the bench. The bench warmed up quickly to me and I to the bench. Slouching down, I leaned my head back and closed my eyes. I was startled by the sound of a bus preparing to stop.
When I raised my head, a grayish silver bus was coming to a halt. The brakes gave off their last hiss of air, and the doors squeaked open. The bus driver was the first to step off. He proceeded to open the luggage compartment at the lower end of the bus. Travelers poured out and were greeted by their friends and family. After trading hugs and smiles with their loved ones, the people began to gather their luggage. In the midst of all the commotion something unusual caught my eye. A man stepped off the bus after the rest of the travelers. My focus was drawn to him, and the noise of the crowd behind him seemed to fade away. The man was about six-feet tall, late twenties, possibly early thirties. His hair was long, dark brown, and greasy. His complection followed that of his hair, and from the looks of his tattered clothes I assumed he had no home. The denim of his jeans was faded, and his ash colored shirt was worn thin.
He peered up and around at the city that encompassed him, as if he was seeing it for the first time. I honestly couldn't tell whether he was admiring the sky scrapers or just trying to make sense of his surroundings. He had a leather strap around his chest, and as he turned to walk away a guitar followed his lead. From the looks of things the two had been through a lot together. The dark mahogany finish was overtaken with scratches and nicks. The old guitar was worn and weathered as I expected the rest of his luggage would be, but to my surprise he had no other belongings to collect. On he walked with only his guitar to accompany him.
It was good the man didn't have a lot to carry; his distressed walk told me his burdens were weight enough. He dragged his feet slightly as he walked, almost as if he was dragging something behind him. Yet there was an unmistakable strength to his strides. The man was undoubtedly bound to his past in some way. Maybe recent tragedy or perhaps a splinter that had been tormenting him for the longest time... I don't know.
My thoughts consumed me. It was a lot to take in. I looked away but only for a brief second. My interest overwhelmed me. Some force I can't explain peeled me off that bench and persuaded me to follow the stranger's footsteps. The man walked with his chin up, occasionally glancing side to side but never behind. I trailed the man by only a couple blocks now, and I watched as he disappeared around the corner. Curiosity pulled me around that same corner; I was eager to see what the man would do next. I didn't have to wait long. When I rounded the corner I immediately noticed the man pulling the six-string off his shoulder. His back fell gently against the red brick building behind him and he slid down the wall until his faded jeans were resting comfortably against the faded sidewalk.
I continued to walk towards him as he strummed a few chords, carefully tweaking the tarnished knobs at the end of the neck. The man tilted his head back and closed his eyes. As I walked by he took a deep breath followed by a deep sigh. It seemed as if all his feelings, problems, and worries were beginning to escape him. Every note resounded through his head and heart; the great void within him was filled. I know this because at that very instant the distant look in the strangers eyes faded away and I could feel the completeness in each and every strum. It was not an option to keep walking. The man's music moved through me and I couldn't take another step.
As I leaned up against a lamp post just yards away the man began to sing. Each word was perfectly and poetically placed and they began to tell a story. After some time I realized he wasn't just playing any random song. He was telling his life story. He was singing his song. Verse after verse and mountain after valley the stranger poured his heart into his song and his song poured into me. I hoped that the music would never stop flowing... but it did. It stopped in mid-strum, and I knew the song was far from being complete. Peering out the corner of my eye I saw the mans' arms rested in his lap. He looked up to the sky above and once more at the city around him. He wasted no time standing up. After swinging his guitar around to his back, I heard him take another deep breath and he was off. I watched as the man vanished in the distance. .. he never once looked back.
If you are like me, there is a longing for more detail. Where is the man going? Where did the man come from? How many verses of His song would find commonplaces within the story of my own life? And perhaps you may even be contemplating, as I was: "How do I transform my own story into a song that will impact others in such a way as this song affected a perfect stranger?"
The beginnings of this tale were pieced together by a couple friends... over a few cups of tea... in the middle of an Americanized Chinese food restaurant. There at the Dragon Garden, my friend and I sat discussing his idea, an idea that I knew could be crafted in to a very captivating story. The original ending of this piece was an English 101 ending, really, the focus of this narrative was on the journey not the ending, and one short, concise, conclusion paragraph was all that was needed to secure a grade of 'A' for my friends' college English assignment. Mission accomplished! It was early morning as we had finished editing the rough draft, one paragraph to go... we just needed to jot something down at the end of the page about not dwelling on the past, good times tucked away, and making a brighter future. As I closed my tired eyes that night, I knew there was quite a bit more to "His Song" than had been recorded, than can be recorded.
As I remember it, my contribution to the creation of the story dealt with how to gently draw the reader into the story. My suggestion was adding a "runner", another character with which the main subject "the traveling musician" could be observed. This runner would offer a mobile, flowing perspective, a way of telling a truly kinetic tale. The main author of this narrative T. J. Taylor, one of my longtime friends, and one of the most gifted musicians I have ever known, seemed to have a connection to this fictional stranger, a stranger no doubt, that may have once have existed within himself. Some years later I had asked T. J. if he would mind me adapting this tale, to come to a different revelation. Before I share my own conclusion to this piece, I will tell you that this tale is a Zen Story at its' very heart. Each person, if they examine their own lives and thought, will awaken upon a unique shore of meaning. I want to encourage ALL READERS to post a comment below... life experiences are the influence of the narrative above and the conclusion below. It is your own personal life experiences that will discover the essence and meaning of His Song:
If we listen closely this man will begin to tell us a story; we will begin to realize and understand many things. This mans' song is a song that has been playing all along and a song that few stop and listen to.
This song is a gift from a man named Jesus. Jesus lived a perfect life so that we wouldn't have to, because he knew we were and are incapable of doing so. But even still he gave his life so that we might live. Our life on earth is just a mist, a vapor and then it is gone. Jesus' life is a song that continues, and if we realize that we are not perfect and that we have all fallen short of the glory of God and if we ask him, Jesus will forgive and forget the past that haunts us. If we put our faith in Jesus and if we follow him, he will transform our lives into a song that will never end. This is one of the many promises that God gives us; that if we believe in His Son[g], Jesus, He will give us everlasting life. 
Each and every one of us can leave our sin and shame at the foot of the cross and begin to live a life pleasing to God. We can begin to sing songs of grace and forgiveness that will spread to the hearts of many. For it is not in how "perfect" we live our lives that others will learn to trust Jesus, but through watching us as we walk through the mountains and valleys of our lives trusting Jesus along the way. By building a relationship with Jesus Christ our lives can be transformed into a song of love and truth that will echo in the hearts of others. Life on this earth will soon come to an end, but if we put our trust and confidence in Jesus we will become part of His Song, that will never end...
Thank you T. J. to for permission to share this story. Josh and I look forward to reading what this song means to each and every reader, please comment!!
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16(NASB)
T. J. Taylor & Bill Hudson # October 30, 2012