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Sunday, December 22, 2013

An Inconsequential #Waltz. By John von Daler

                   I had a friend who committed suicide. Evidently she found herself boxed into a corner with no exits and made her choice. I say "evidently" because she and I were not intimate friends, only acquaintances, colleagues who worked together occasionally and who always appreciated each other's presence. I did not have any insight into her way of thinking about herself and I was not aware of the process that led to her demise.

                She was a set designer and painter, an artist of great dexterity and insight. I liked the kind of homely ease with which she combined the natural and the surreal, as if there really were no borders between our world and whatever else there is.
                In her part of our world I was a composer and a musician and I know that she liked my music.
                I think back with delight - with the exception of one small incident - on the few moments we had together working on various projects and taking part in social events at the small theater where our paths often crossed.
                A few months before she died I sent her a tape, a melancholic, little waltz I had written which was to be the theme of a play I was writing, a pantomime about two clowns. I wanted her to design the sets, because I knew that her kind of down-to-earth, feminine insight would complement my quiet masculine tale about a rivalry.
                After I had sent off the tape to her I waited a few weeks to give her a chance to listen to the music and to think over the project. Then I called.
                She said she had heard the tape a few times a day ever since she received it. She loved the waltz. She thought the idea for the play was good and interesting. But there was a hitch: she had decided not to be a set-designer anymore. She added that the waltz almost had made her change her mind and that she had not called me back because she loved my little melody and did not like to say no.
                I am not a great arm-bender. When people say they have made a decision, I generally just agree with them, so I did not plague my friend to make her take the job. I reiterated that I thought she was perfect for the play and asked her to reconsider and when she answered that she had made her decision, I let her go.
                What would have happened if I had waited a few more weeks, or sent her flowers, or called her back several times, or even shouted at her that her decision was really stupid?  
                The waltz will never be the same. Its melancholy has turned to sorrow.

                My book, Pieces: A Life in Eight Movements and a Prelude (WiDo Publishing) is now available. Order through, the publisher or your local bookstore. Click to buy Pieces at the top of the blog. Please feel free to write a short review of the book in your own language at or GoodReads. Thanks for your support!




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