By Mary Jaksch
I’m inspired by stories of how people overcome challenges. One of the great stories is that of pianist David Helfgott. I saw him in concert today and it was an amazing experience.
David trotted on stage in a red silk Cossack shirt, flashed a huge grin and gave the audience a thumbs-up. As soon as he sat down to play, all eccentricity was forgotten. You could sense that playing music makes him feel whole. David Helfgott says:
It is paradise to perform in front of an audience — a great emotional and spiritual experience. I feel at one with the audience and I have an image in my thoughts which inspires me. I think of the beauty of the music and imagination it generates.
If you saw the movie Shine, you’ll know the story of David Helfgott. After emerging as a child prodigy and starting a dazzling career, David’s mental health started to deteriorate. He ended up in a mental hospital in Perth, Australia. Over the next ten years, he underwent psychiatric treatment which included psychotropic medication and electro-convulsive therapy.
When he was released back into the community, David earned a meager wage by playing piano on Saturday evenings at Riccardo’s wine bar in Perth. The owner, Dr. Chris Reynolds, alerted the public to David’s extraordinary playing. It was there at the wine bar that he meet his future wife, Gillian, who, with the support of promoter Mike Parry, helped David to gradually resume his concert career. You can see a video of him here.
When I saw how playing the piano made David Helfgott whole, I began to think about how certain activities make us feel complete.
What makes you whole?
What is it in your life that makes you feel wholly alive? What makes you feel whole?
Peter Levitt talks of becoming whole as ‘being cut into one’:
Already at birth I was parted,
not just from my mother -
but body from mind,
mind from its source -
that’s why I take up
this soft blade of breathe
to cut me back into one
It’s not only the breath that can cut us back into one. Activity that’s in line our purpose in life also cut us back into one.
I was reflecting on what cuts me back into one. For me it’s mentoring others. I love helping others to shine. I love holding up a mirror to others so that they can see their beauty, talent, and wholeness reflected back.
What about you? What makes you feel whole?