“At a time.”
What does that phrase mean, really? One piano per unit of time; saved. That is what I do. There is no math – no grand number which leverages the single act into a more noble one. It is just one piano saved; one unit of time.
That is enough.
Because the beach has many grains of sand, but the wind blows them hither and yon, one grain at a time.
Because the notes of a symphony are but ink spots on a page, each have their time of importance, one at a time.
Because the twinkling eye reveals itself, one sparkle at a time.
Because the tallest buildings are raised, one brick at a time.
Because everything we do is based on the singularity of the moment; this time, here – now.
“I suppose I could care for the pianos at a concert hall,” I explained to my customer today. “They would want me to tune the same pianos four or five times a week; before each concert.”
“Oh, yes…” she said pensively.
“And I suppose several people would stand over my shoulder, second-guessing each turn of the lever as I tuned the piano for each concert,” I continued the story as I tried to explain what it would really be like to work in the institutional side of our business.
“When you become a famous pianist, or hold a position of responsibility in arts management, you are expected to know things that others do not know,” I supposed out loud. “And although most know nothing about tuning or technical work, I would be pressed to appease the famous and the powerful, night after night.”
“That sounds terrible,” she said.
“But I can do more good just repairing the pianos that are in all of these homes in all of these neighborhoods,” I motioned my arm towards the street lined by house after house. “In these neighborhoods I can perform miracles; transforming old, abused and forgotten pianos back into musical instruments so that everyone who wants to play can play and sound a little better.”
“And if I was ever able to go to a fine concert, something I cannot afford, but if I could – I would see that every eye would be fixed on the famous pianist that was on the stage; the pianist that was enabled by the efforts of the audience.”
“But my eye would be fixed upon the audience, because I know that they were all once children, and someone empowered each of them, grains of sand, notes on a page, sparkles forming a million twinkles.”
“And I would feel no less proud than all the famous pianists in the world.”
And then I said goodbye, got into my car, and went to my next appointment.
At a time.