We’re Obsessed with Freedom But We’re Not Truly Free

by Tim Arndt

A Tale of Two Pianists

I used to live in a homeless shelter.

While I was technically homeless, I lived there because it was my job as the overnight RA. There were a lot of great guys who lived there. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know them and made many friends, but there were also some interesting characters.

One gentleman really enjoyed playing the piano. The problem was that no one else enjoyed his piano playing. Sometimes he would sit there and hit the same note intermittently for 10 minutes. Sometimes he would just randomly bang on the piano keys like my toddlers do.

Then one day he decided to treat the piano like it was a punching bag. He smacked the keys as hard as he could over and over again. It was awful.

One of the other residents had enough of it. He yelled “CUT IT OUT! You’re giving me a headache! Don’t play if you don’t know how!”

The pianist yelled back with just as much vigor “DON’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO! I like my music! You just don’t understand!”

He went right back to his piano beating.

Now I grew up playing the piano and a lot of my relatives are very musical.

I remember one Christmas break, my cousins and I were having fun replicating pop songs on the piano. One of my cousins was especially gifted at this. We would name a song and she would make her own beautiful arrangement of it on the spot. Sometimes she would stop playing and say “I think it would sound better in this key.” She would then continue crafting her arrangement in a different key.

Let me ask you a question.

Which pianist was free?…

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