caver convo

I’m sure others do too but I never catch them, except sometimes kids, but even then it’s usually because they saw me first showing off my low level daredevil status. Walking on the curb. It surprised me yesterday when I turned the corner and saw a woman with frizzy red hair and a tweety bird back pack, walking half a kilometer ahead – even had her hands outstretched for balance. It never occurred to me before but then it hit me, this is exactly what I’m learning playing stride. Once you get comfortable balancing on the curb the next level is walking without looking at your feet. Fats Waller, Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson accurately jump seventeen inches with their left hands while their eyes check out the club’s supper menu. Eyes are the wrong word because there are no eyes at that level. Once you are comfortable walking the curb, the next level is not using the eyes of your face, but a different concept of seeing. Something is accurately placing the feet, achieving precision. Since my speed was swifter I asked her as I passed if she looks at her feet. Anytime a strange man asks a strange woman about anything at all, it is a bit of a risk, one doesn’t know if it will be an ordinary exchange or given the history of madness on Earth, if the result will be a self defence go away leave me alone type reply which is of course is absolutely understandable. In this particular instance she replied as if we had been having this conversation for ten minutes, a pleasant surprise. She said she didn’t know, she had not considered looking away from her feet before and I realized my point was like telling someone who plays open chords that barre chords are the next level but they don’t necessarily agree and it’s fair. She did though find it curious, then added she should have thought of that because she’s a caver. I said what’s a caver? She said I go into caves. Like where are there caves in Toronto? Maybe she was one of those people who go to the secret subway. Everywhere, she said, Hamilton, Bellville, Peterborough. I see, I said, you mean like when you are in a cave you can’t see so you have to imagine feeling where you are, is that what you mean? No, she replied quickly, you have a light when you’re a caver. Oh I didn’t know. And you have to go with a partner she added. Our conversation was over but I was still liking these thoughts about ordinary physical things which are exactly piano things. The day before I heard someone tell me they didn’t come from a musical family and that was supposed to explain why some can play music and some cannot, but the truth is walking is no different than playing an instrument, speaking any language is no different too. The same stuff happens for the brain. It’s all just whether you want to engage the brain in this direction or not but there’s no genetic rule prohibiting you from becoming a Russian speaker, dribbling a basketball or singing the guitar like Sonny Greenwich.

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