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Art and Life (One Year Later)


Every so often I can’t help hoping that there will be a knock on my door and when I open it, who is there but my sexy soul mate, a beautiful woman who heard the blues music every time she walked by, and wondered if, according to her own fantasy, a sensitive, erudite dude had been right there all along, waiting for her, waiting for happily ever after. And after a while, she could no longer ignore the siren song escaping from the small space under the front door and came knocking.

Of course, this illusion presupposes three things, in descending order of unlikelihood: one, that there are such things as soul mates; two, that my soul mate happens to live in my building; and three, that anyone actually listens to—much less enjoys—blues music.


Sometimes art aspires to attract life, and sometimes –all too seldom– life responds.

Sometimes life manages to surpass art: life is where the real art happens, if you are open to it; if you are paying attention. Or if you are lucky.

And sometimes a dignified and generous gentleman (you won’t use his name and you can no longer call him a stranger) surprises you.

“I love music,” he says. “And I walk past your door and always hear your records playing.”

He is holding a pile of records.

“I hear jazz and blues, and those are my two favorite types of music.”

He holds up one of his records, and it’s an artist you both admire.

“There are not many people I know who appreciate this.”

Not many people appreciate jazz and blues, you don’t need to say.

“We should listen to music together sometime,” you say.

“Well, I would like that. I’m caring for my wife and I don’t have a chance to listen to music like I used to.”

You just summed up everything I’ve been trying to write about for the past five years, you don’t say. (You can’t begin to explain, but you think about connections, omens, gifts and messages, and all that this week signifies. And what this encounter may or may not mean, and how it need not represent anything other than what it is: that elusive, soulful human touch.)

He would understand, though. And maybe you’ll get there.

For now, he’s left you with a pile of records.

“I want to find people to give these to,” he says.

I can’t tell you how much this means to me, you say.

And although he is obviously a dignified and generous man, he could not begin to understand how much you mean these words.

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Please Talk about Me When I’m Gone, which pulled me in from the first page and never let go, is a mosaic love letter from a son to his lost mother, so everyone in the bereavement club should read it. But this memoir is also a thoughtful, compassionate meditation on being alive. I nodded in recognition, dog-eared pages containing lines I loved, felt my eyes well with tears. In the end you should read it for the reason anyone reads good writing: to feel less alone.”

—Jenna Blum, NYT best-selling author of Those Who Save Us and The Stormchasers

May 27, 2015