(names and some events have been altered for sake of privacy)
Only recently have I learned the true and beautiful inspiration behind John Cage's 4'33":
It was late at night. My friends and I were exhausted coming back to school from an orchestra festival, and we just finished unloading the truck. All of the instruments were finally placed back on their respective racks, the drumline truck was loaded, and we were ready to go and enjoy a wonderful weekend.
While everyone was making small talk outside the bandroom saying their last goodbyes, I stared at the empty track and field right behind the fence. I couldn't even see the other side. It was obscured by the darkness, only slightly illuminated by the moonlight hidden behind the clouds. Although I never like the dark, this ominous atmosphere was different. It was so still, only slightly perturbed by the occasional wind and rustling of the leaves from the nearby trees.
Two minutes later, I found myself alone sitting on one of the rackety chairs in the middle of the field, playing with the grass. As I sat and took a deep breath, I observed the sounds around me, the whooshing and honking of cars from the road, the birds chirping from above, and the scattered chatter and laughter from the music room. Isolation from the real world calms the senses; I can let go and simply think about myself. Living in such a metropolitan world, it's difficult to relax without having to constantly do something, whipping out a phone, chatting with friends, or playing videogames, for example. We constantly move around and make noise.
But for that moment, time stood still. I finally had a chance to reminisce about the last two years that I've had. All of those thoughts suddenly gushed into my head, and I was overwhelmed with emotion. Tears started streaking down my cheeks. The feeling was so surreal; the past and present started merging together. I started losing sense of myself. Here, as I sit typing this, I find myself at a loss of words trying to describe the epiphany. My mind became lost in a jigsaw puzzle as I put all the pieces together.....:
I started forgetting about what love meant one year ago. Picking up the the arrow that tore my heart in the tenth grade, I started to rebuild myself by shutting myself out emotionally. Unfortunately, at the time, I thought that it was the only way to blend in with society. If I never expose my true self to people, I would never open myself to getting hurt.
At the end of the eleventh grade, one of my two close friends, Sal (the only other one was Victor), claimed that he was going to move halfway across the state, thereby leaving my limited circle. Through our constant text messaging, the two of us became personal friends. We would share our issues and sympathize with each other. I fought for him to stay, even attempting to contact his parents and convince them so we wouldn't lose each other.
The summer was filled with dejected emotions. I was going to lose someone I really met because of a goddamn distance. No one would walk with me from the bus stop to my first class anymore, I mused. I'd be that lonely one again. I finally open up to someone, and nature treats me this way.
However, as the first day of 12th grade came, Sal stumbled onto the school bus with his heavy backpack and violin. His parents decided to stay until he graduated. We hugged; I haven't felt as happy in such a long time. We had such a brilliant semester together, catching up on all of the things we missed. We would spend every moment of free time together, and it was a purely enlightening experience.
Ding! My phone went off while I was doing my homework. I just received a text message from Sal right when the second semester started.
"Ugh, why couldn't I get another stand partner. I'd prefer ANYONE at this point over Victor."
"He's a terrible terrible person"
"Maybe you're clueless because he sucks up to you so much"
"Look, I just don't want a stand partener who treats people like crap"
It was hard to respond to each one of these. Victor was the only other person I could trust besides Sal. The thing that hurt more, Victor didn't even know that Sal thought of him this way. I didn't know. How was I supposed to go to see the both of them together? It was a long fight, which now results in awkward small talk, pretending that we never knew each other.
I died in the inside. Every time, I think I can trust someone, I always get hurt in the process. I never learn. As I mentioned before, we meet people whom we thought we could confide in. We let them in, expose our sensitivities and weaknesses, and they use it to their advantage and destroy us from the inside.
I didn't want to lose Victor too; speaking from experience, usually people at this point throw me away and ignore me, especially when I open up too much. Can I trust him? Or is he just like the others? Is he a real friend? This situation would test the bond strength of our friendship and even attempt to break them.
I didn't want to know of the result, but I took a big leap of faith anyways and told Victor of the entire situation and how hurt I was. Nothing to lose right? It was a scary experience, but I soon realized that we were in this together. We are always there for each other, and we appreciate each others' presence. Through our personal conversations, we console each other and pick each other back up. Our relationship is different than any other I've ever had in my life. He didn't just like me just because I could play music. He appreciates me for my personality, the real me. We share joys and pains together, the laughs and the tears, love, a new type of happiness.
I'm so thankful to have met Victor, to have gone on such an emotional roller coaster with him. Without him, I don't know what I would have done. Every time I'm sad or angry, he always finds a way to perk me up, even when it seems impossible. He has made this year one to remember. I'm very lucky to have such a great friend and pure soul in my life, one who would be there with me all the way. I can't imagine my life without him, especially what this last month would have been.
He's probably the only one I'd take a bullet to the head for. He's taught me so much, and I'm grateful, always finding ways to thank him. I just think that......
"Austin?! What are you doing?" a voice eminated from the other side of the field.
I checked the time. Whoa! it's been almost an hour since I sat down. The guy walked up to me and stood besides me.
"It's surprising how the darkness and silence makes you think, eh?" I responded.
"Yeah, it is," he replied. He sat next to me on one of the other chairs as we gazed off into the darkness together.
Only the true friend comes around to help you up when you are hurting the most. You may not find him right away, but he's there for you.