Thursday, November 19, 2009

Unexpected Moments of Perfection

Last night, J and I experienced a moment of perfection at the Swell Season concert. Perhaps you remember Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova from that beautiful little movie Once? Well, they were just as beautiful, genuine, sweet-without-being-saccharine, and perfectly harmonized in concert as they were in the film. Usually, when I go to concerts and don't know all the songs, I enjoy the experience a little bit less: not so, last night.  Every song featured beautiful harmonies, emotion, and great guitar.  Not to mention, the band was joined by the Frames onstage, a Czech family friend of Marketa's (to honor the Velvet Revolution) and a guest song by Jason Siegel.

But while it was definitely an amazing concert, it surpassed amazing into something more due to Glen, his honesty, and a story he told us that left me in tears.  I had to share, because it hit me last night and stayed with me this morning, and those are the sort of moments that matter most.

A few weeks ago, Glen was in Chicago for the tour.  As he came down the elevator in the morning, an older woman, perhaps 70, in a bright blue coat joined him. He described her face thusly: "You know how you have the face you were born with until you're 25, then from 25 to 40 you have the face that earn, and from 40 to death you have the face you deserve? Well, this woman was beautiful at 70, just one of the most beautiful faces, she definitely had one of those faces you earn."  And as he looked over at her, he felt the need to compliment her coat, and so he did.  And she got so excited and touched, responding, "Thank you for noticing my coat.  This coat means so much to me, thank you for noticing.  I bought this coat when I decided to live again.  I loved the color and wanted to live.  I didn't leave my apartment for two years, and when I did, when I decided to live, I bought this blue coat."  Glen was a little surprised and a little touched, and he helped her with her bag to the taxi.  As they got to the taxi, she started to tear up and the words started rushing out like when you've had a moment of kindness that unlocks all the emotions that have been sitting around for ages.  And she said, "My son died in that tower.  He quit on September 10 and went back the next day to pick up some last things.  I meant to call him and tell him not to bother going back, but I slept late.  And then I didn't leave my apartment for two years.  And then I finally decided to buy this coat and live, and you noticed it."

It wasn't exactly typical concert banter, but I don't think anyone in the audience minded.  He followed it up with this song, mixing his beautiful tonality with harsh yearning and incredible guitar, and it was perfection.

It was just a small moment in an elevator, but a small moment that mattered.  So go out and compliment someone today, go out and be purposely nice, and go out and remember to live.


  1. I love the swell season/frames. I saw them last year at the Greek. They always put on a great performance.

  2. wow. thank you for sharing this. my heart has been sufficiently touched. :)

  3. Ok, crying. Thanks for sharing such a beautiful reminder of how we touch people's lives with simple words. My fiance and I once climbed into our community jacuzzi with an elderly woman from the complex. My fiance (being the super social one) began to talk to her about her life and she found out we were engaged and shared all about her past romances and the love of her life that she lost to illness. She was with a new man in her late 60's and it was so amazing to hear about her life. She began to tear up and it was an amazing moment for the man and I.

  4. I was there too! I cried, too. So beautiful and touching.

    Glen seemed to be so grateful and happy to have achieved the success he has, and it felt so real and genuine.

  5. That just gave me goose bumps. Thanks for sharing.


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