I Can’t Believe What I Just Saw

27 January 2014

I witnessed my first miracle yesterday.

There was no celestial neon needed nor hovering angels to point the way. No one needs experience as a seasoned miracle observer to know. I knew it was a miracle, even though it was my first. We all would. I wasn’t changed by it as was Saul on the road to Damascus by a miracle conversion. It didn’t make me want to philosophize about miracles like Einstein: There are two ways to live; you can live as if nothing is a miracle; or you can live as if everything is a miracle.Of course, Einstein spent his life organizing life into coherence, so that we don’t need miracles to explain what we can’t understand.

I didn’t ask the Infinite; Show me a miracle, so I know you exist.It wasn’t a miracle when a lone bottle of Orange Crush appeared, when I was flickering from dehydration…it was nice and coincidental and happened at the right time. I just accept the miracle of life as a fact of life. It’s there every day, so I’m not prepared to be overwhelmed by it.

But there are the radar blips that amplify things that are truly unexplainable. A young man from Japan strode onto the stage at SUNY Purchase yesterday to play the piano with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra in Beethoven’s 5th Piano Concerto…with all the complexities and runs up and down the keyboard. Others have done it. What’s so miraculous? Well, the soloist, Nobuyuki Tsujii has been blind since birth. This is not the odds maker’s territory…the probability that something like this will happen given enough time and the right circumstances. Odds don’t exist for a sightless person, playing Beethoven’s 5th Piano Concerto. It can’t happen. Everyone knows that. But I saw him do it with all the precision and risk-taking and coloration from the fourth row, all 42 minutes…no mirrors, no magic…a miracle. Coincidently, Beethoven wrote his Ninth Symphony after he was deaf, but that’s a miracle for another day.

And then, as if the Beethoven wasn’t exhausting enough, he tossed off two solo encores; a tranquil Mozart and Liszt’s La Campanella, as explosively difficult to handle as anything for the piano. Playing the piano like that is instinctive, intuitive. It’s far too fast to think where you’re placing your fingers. But there seemed to be no…oops, wrong note…in the thousands of notes he played. His fingers, inexplicably, found the way.

Years ago, Kirk Gibson, playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers, came off the bench with a gimpy knee and hit a home run to win a World Series game. I remember the announcer, saying, I don’t believe what I just saw. It was amazing, inspiring, but odds exist…a lucky swing. It wasn’t a miracle.

If you’re inclined to see this miracle, just go to YouTube; www.youtube.com and in the subject bar type: Pianist Nobuyuki Tsujii. Scroll down and you’ll find him playing La Campanella and, a little further, a video of him playing a toy piano at two years, seven months. There are also videos of him playing Rachmaninoff, Chopin, Prokofiev and more Liszt.