As we’re leaving the King’s Arms Hotel after Sunday lunch, I watch a beautiful white dove walking down the wet road. A car approaches and the bird accidentally turns into the wheel rather than away from it. A gentle crunch. The car passes. A shape like a discarded napkin left in the road. Still perfectly white, no red stains, but bearing no relation anymore to the shape of a bird. A trail of white feathers flutter down the road after the car. The suddenness is very upsetting. That gentle crunch.
― Antony Sher, Year of the King: An Actor’s Diary and Sketchbook
The melody got lost, first off. Everything got lost, then, while that horn flew. It wasn’t only jazz; it was the heart of jazz, and the insides, pulled out with the roots and held up for everybody to see; it was blues that told the story of all the lonely cats and all the ugly whores who ever lived, blues that spoke up for the loser lamping sunshine out of iron-gray bars and every hop head hooked and gone, for the bindlestiffs and the city slicers, for the country boys in Georgia shacks and the High Yellow hipsters in Chicago slums and the bootblacks on the corners and the fruits in New Orleans, a blues that spoke for all the lonely, sad and anxious downers who could never speak themselves…
It makes me sad that so many people feel they’re only allowed to show their best face, while their humanity and vulnerabilities are forbidden and hidden. How else do we connect, but by commonality, by mutual understanding and truth in life’s experiences? Whether it makes you smile or cringe, a truth spoken is a healing thing.
“Did you ever notice that all machines are made for some reason?” he asked Isabelle. “They are built to make you laugh, like the mouse here, or to tell the time, like clocks, or to fill you with wonder like the automaton. Maybe that’s why a broken machine always makes me a little sad, because it isn’t able to do what it was made to do.” Isabelle picked up the mouse, wound it again, and set it down. “Maybe it’s the same with people,” Hugo continued. “If you lose your purpose…it’s like you’re broken.”
“That’s simple,” says the old man. “They are the prisoners of their personal history. Everyone believes that the main aim in life is to follow a plan. They never ask if that plan is theirs or if it was created by another person. They accumulate experiences, memories, things, other people’s ideas, and it is more than they can possibly cope with. And that is why they forget their dreams.”
I am not sad, he would repeat to himself over and over, I am not sad. As if he might one day convince himself. Or fool himself. Or convince others—the only thing worse than being sad is for others to know that you are sad. I am not sad. I am not sad. Because his life had unlimited potential for happiness, insofar as it was an empty white room. He would fall asleep with his heart at the foot of his bed, like some domesticated animal that was no part of him at all. And each morning he would wake with it again in the cupboard of his rib cage, having become a little heavier, a little weaker, but still pumping. And by the midafternoon he was again overcome with the desire to be somewhere else, someone else, someone else somewhere else. I am not sad.