The pianist in the shopping center – Part 2

Paulo Coelho


The only thing he seems not to have understood is that nobody, absolutely nobody has gone there to hear him play, but to buy, eat, enjoy themselves, look at shop windows and meet friends. A couple stops beside us, talking in a loud voice, and then moves on. The pianist has not seen this – he is still chatting with Mozart’s angels. Nor has he seen that there is an audience of two, one of whom, a talented violinist, is listening to him play with tears in her eyes.

I remember a chapel which I once just happened to enter and saw a girl playing for God. But she was in a chapel, that made sense; in this case, nobody is listening, perhaps not even God.

Lies. God is listening. God is in this man’s soul and hands, because he is giving the best of himself, regardless of any recognition or the money he received. He plays as if he were in the Scala in Milan or in the Opéra in Paris. He plays because this is his destiny, his joy, his reason for being.

I am seized by a feeling of deep reverence. Respect for a man who at that moment is recalling a very important lesson: you have a personal legend to fulfill, period. It is of no matter if others support you, or criticize, ignore or tolerate you – you are doing that because that is your destiny on this earth, and the source of any joy.

The pianist ends another piece by Mozart and for the first time notices our presence. He greets us with a well-mannered, discreet nod of the head, which we answer. But then he returns at once to his paradise, and it is best to leave him there untouched by anything in this world, not even our timid applause. He is setting an example for all of us. When we feel that no-one is paying attention to what we are doing, let us think about this pianist: he was conversing with God through his work, and the rest was not of the least importance.

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  1. T.K. says:

    I wonder if the global phenomenon performance of Susan Boyle on Britain’s Got Talent show last week is much like the pianist. This talented woman has mesmerized the hearts and souls of the world. I imagine that she sang in her kitchen, around the house, in her bathroom because of the joy of singing. When she stepped on that stage in front of millions (who doubted her ability), I think for her it was as if she was in her kitchen doing what she already loved doing daily.

    I’ve listed her as one of my heros. At the age 47, she persued her dream and was able to have that chance…and her one chance has opened the eyes of millions!

  2. Lu says:

    Thanks a lot Paulo for this story. Sometimes when we decide to follow our personal legend, there are these moments when we stop and look around and we feel alone. Cuz it seems like there’s nobody out there who cares about what we do, about how we are fighting against all odds to accomplished “that” we know is our destiny. Sometimes we get frustrated and we feel lonely to see that “nobody is listening”. Although… just as you wrote… “you have a personal legend to fulfill, period. It is of no matter if others support you, or criticize, ignore or tolerate you – you are doing that because that is your destiny on this earth, and the source of any joy.”
    Thanks again cuz u’ve filled up my hope once again.

  3. Akua says:

    Some time ago I was visiting my parents. In the night it was too hot and I went outside to enjoy the cooler air.
    I saw in the darkness the magnificent blossom ‘the Queen of the Night’ which blooms just one night a year. The beauty of this blossoming cactus was breathtaking, and the aroma subtle but wonderful. I sat and watched this lovely flower which would be gone by the morning and for the rest of the year. If I hadn’t left my bed in the middle of the night I would have missed this wonderful gift. But it will come again and again, once a year whether anyone observes it or not. It comes because it is one of God’s expressions which will be beautiful whether its seen or not.

    I feel inspired with what Paulo writes and many of us feel the same. But there are many out there who have never read his books.
    That does not stop him from writing, he writes because that is how he expresses his soul.

    With love, Akua

  4. Es cierto que a veces lo que estás escuchando es tan precioso que te resistes a aplaudir por no romper el encanto y claro por ser cortés aplaudes pues es esa la manifestación y el reconocimiento hacia el artista.
    Realmente la clave de la felicidad en nuestra existencia está en hacer un trabajo ofrecido a Dios, esto quiere decir que lo que hacemos sentimos que es lo que tenemos que hacer porque en nuestro interior existe un diálogo con Dios y sentimos que nuestros trabajo es Sagrado.
    Tenemos que encontrar un trabajo que nos evoque este sentimiento.
    Un beso Paulo.

  5. Marie-Christine says:

    Baroque music is the way to go to lift your spirit.
    Enjoy it.
    Baroque from the portuguese word “barroco” – Mishappen pearl
    Listen free and discover music at Last fm

    Antonio Lucio Vivaldi (Lucio – Light)(1678-1741)
    born in Venice
    I am going to be away as from Sunday for a week.

  6. Heart says:

    Serving the poorest of the poor or the richest of the rich, we should always try to offer the highest quality to everybody, give our love and talent.

  7. Breda says:

    I was at an accident and emergency unit yesterday in a private hospital-my GP suspected I had a blood clot-I am sooooo grateful he was WRONG, HAPPY DAYS )anyhow back to the piano -grand piano-in the very large foyer of this hospital there was a grand piano playing Chopin computer generatd ?)? all on its own ! I didn’t appreciate Chopin for the first time ever : (

  8. Mari Ann says:

    Too bad I missed part I… Touching story though. Another touching story was Gran Torino. Greetings to Clint Eastwood from a fan after his latest movie…

  9. T.K. says:

    Is this like living inside your own bubble? Not aware of outside influences? This is touching.

  10. tsinli says:

    for music reflects an abstract form of something….
    strangely, it always sound better when a musician plays for someone to listen. with that in mind, this music just somehow have the ability to touch one’s heart. because it yearns to be heard. seemingly, playing music with a special someone in mind, puts the purpose within it, and gives it life and spirit.

  11. Savita Vega says:

    There is a song by one of my favorite musicians/lyricists that is about a musician who, like the pianist described, is just fulfilling his Personal Legend, regardless of whether others approve or not, despite who does or does not support him or take notice of him. He knows that this is his Destiny, and he will live it out to the end, for better or for worse. He has no choice, as he puts it, because he has been elected (or condemned, depending on how you want to look at it) by “twenty-seven angels from the great beyond.” And no one, not even a woman, not even a love relationship gone wrong, can knock him off his path, because “he’s standing by the window where the light is strong” – the light of the Divine, who manages this “Tower of Song” in which he resides, and where he pays his rent, not in money, but in music. It is a lonely place at times, he suggests, but nonetheless, a place where you can “see…(and) hear these funny voices” – the voices of Mozart’s angels perhaps – speaking directly to you from the rafters up above.

    by Leonard Cohen

    My friends are gone and my hair is grey.
    I ache in the places where I used to play.
    And I’m crazy for love but I’m not coming on.
    I’m just paying my rent every day in the tower of song.

    I said to Hank Williams: “How lonely does it get?”
    Hank Williams hasn’t answered yet,
    but I hear him coughing all night long,
    a hundred floors above me in the tower of song.

    I was born like this, I had no choice.
    I was born with the gift of a golden voice,
    and twenty-seven angels from the great beyond,
    they tied me to this table right here in the tower of song.

    So you can stick your little pins in that voodoo doll
    – I’m very sorry, baby, doesn’t look like me at all.
    I’m standing by the window where the light is strong.
    They don’t let a woman kill you not in the tower of song.

    Now you can say that I’ve grown bitter but of this you may be sure:
    The rich have got their channels in the bedrooms of the poor,
    and there’s a mighty judgement coming, but I may be wrong.
    You see, you hear these funny voices in the tower of song.

    I see you standing on the other side.
    I don’t know how the river got so wide.
    I loved you, I loved you way back when –
    And all the bridges are burning that we might have crossed,
    but I feel so close to everything that we lost-
    We’ll never, we’ll never have to lose it again.

    So I bid you farewell, I don’t know when I’ll be back.
    They’re moving us tomorrow to that tower down the track.
    But you’ll be hearing from me, baby, long after I’m gone.
    I’ll be speaking to you sweetly from my window in the tower of song.

    My friends are gone and my hair is grey.
    I ache in the places where I used to play.
    And I’m crazy for love but I’m not coming on.
    I’m just paying my rent every day in the tower of song.

  12. Alexandra says:

    for God,sorry for my continuous misspellings.Guess I am touched by the story.It brought me tears in my eyes.

  13. Alexandra says:

    Tough.I agree in the end,maybe is all right ,but still something make me sad in that story.But I think you are right, sometimes we must do this things only for ourselves and for Go.

  14. Irina Black says:

    How to live in Eternity.

  15. Marie-Christine says:

    … still chatting with Mozart’s angels, yeah.

  16. THELMA says:

    Happiness is to fulfill one’s destiny! To feel joy, full, complete and to forget any other .. difficulties or drawbacks. To proceed towards your goal to Ithaca, like Ulysses, never allowing the Sirens or fear to hinder our way.