Back in the day when spontaneity was the forefront of my single, child-free life, I would fly to Hawaii at a whim and last minute dinners at swanky, white table cloth restaurants were all part of filling the void of having little else outside work life.
Then, without realization, the vacuum of dissatisfaction reached its peak.
One quiet, brisk winter’s Sunday morning, my surfer boyfriend and I decided to take a drive to the north of the city. He wanted to check out some surfboards at a special shop of his and I suggested he drop me off at a piano store on the way.
I had been contemplating on buying my own upright piano for a while. But unlike most high cost, long term purchases, I hadn’t done any thorough research for this one.
I walked into the shop of dozens of pianos –grand, upright and electronic – with no commitment. Just to have a browse.
The only sales assistant I could spot was a middle aged man with a strong European accent. The Piano Man.
Extremely frank and blunt in his sales technic (“That one’s cheap but so is its sound…”) he was at least honest. He loved his pianos and you could tell.
He spoke with conviction but was pragmatic. I knew he wasn’t trying to “sell”.
He showed me one in particular and I fell in love. Right there I bought my biggest, most spontaneous purchase.
Later I discovered that his real profession was in their tuning and maintenance. Then I knew, I wasn’t going to be jipped off by a sales person driven only by commission and dollar signs but was to be guided by a technical expert who exactly knew real quality.
5 years on, Fred* sends me a text around the same time every year reminding me that it’s time for him to drop by and tune my little baby.
He arrives with his tool box, ready to get to work. Despite seeing Fred so rarely, I’ve memorized how he takes his coffee (1 sugar with just the slightest dash of milk). The moment I greet him, I make him one.
As he turns the strings and cranks the keys to get the tone just right, we chat about life – the little things and the big.
Work has slowed down lately, he tells me. More and more people are going electronic. There’s less demand for the traditional wooden piano, which in turn, means there’s less instruments for him to visit and take care of.
There are homes he’s visited for decades. As time and life progresses, the pianos keep their stellar condition but their owners are racked with old age.
He mentions that his own health is not so good but he gets by and his work keeps him busy.
It takes him just a little over an hour to finish his task. Even when I ask him how much I owe him, he’s bashful to take my money – as though he can’t possibly be paid for doing something he already loves.
And as we’re about to say our goodbyes for another year, he gives me a small grin and says with pride:
“You know, even if I won the lotto and had a million dollars, this is something I would still be doing.”
And I believe him.
How wonderful to not only find your passion but to be so content with the happiness it offers; that no amount of monetary value can compare.
To have what seems to be a simple trade to others but is so important to you and to those who value your skills.
When extravagance means absolutely nothing if you can’t continue doing the one thing that you were born to do.
If you won a million dollars, what would you keep doing?
*Names have been changed to protect identities.
Despite accidentally hitting “Publish” on the Monday arvo, this post is exclusively for Jess’ fabulous IBOT.