The businessman shut down his computer as soon as the clock on his computer hit 5. He was finally done for the day and decided to call it quits. He quickly packed his bag up for his trek home and lugged it onto his shoulder. Walking out of the office, he waved at some fellow co-workers and then popped earbuds in while he walked to the subway.
Once he cleared the lobby and stepped outside, the hot summer air choked the air out of him. He quickly rushed toward the closest subway station and stayed in the shade as much as possible. On a walk that was all too familiar, he walked past the hotdog stand that was closing down after a long day, the huge swarms of suits that were all trying to head home, and the violinist. The same violinist that sat on the same stool in the same spot every day. The businessman popped out an earbud.
“You mind if I ask you something?” he asked the violinist.
“Go for it” the old man replied.
“I don’t get it. Why do you come here every day and play the same song just slightly different?” the businessman inquired.
“Hmm?” the violinist responded while furrowing his bushy grey eyebrows as he stood up to pack up his instrument.
The businessman continued. “You don’t make much money…” He gestured to the small pile of singles and various coins that littered the violin case.
The violinist chuckled as he bent down next to the case.
“You don’t get it do you?” the violinist asked, rhetorically. The businessman cocked an eyebrow.
“It’s not about the money” the violinist went on as he started to organize the small bills. “This just helps me survive. No. It’s not about the money. It’s about that thing that you’ve been told since you were about five years old. ‘Do what you love.’ I used to laugh and think it was crazy. Just like you.” He pointed an accusatorial finger in the direction of the businessman.
“I never wanted that.” The violinist said while he started to move his hand up and down, pointing at the businessman’s suit. “And, I used to have a job similar to yours.” He continued while his eyes looked to one of the monolithic skyscrapers in the distance.
The businessman smiled slightly.
“So why’d you quit?” the businessman asked while removing the other earbud from his ears.
The violinist’s wrinkled grin grew as he took a step back, towards the stool he was sitting on earlier.
“One day, I got off of work, around the same time as right now. I was walking home from work just like you. And then, I had an amazing realization right here.” He moved the stool and pointed to the aged bricks that the stool was resting on.
“Right here. I realized that I didn’t want that life. I never wanted to crunch numbers for a living. Five-year old me would have never wanted to sit in a cubicle. No way in hell!” he said passionately like he was beginning a sermon.
“But, why the violin?” The businessman cut in before the violinist could continue.
The violinist looked down at the bow he still clutched in his hand and thought for a moment.
“I could never sing. I could never dance. I couldn’t write. But I’d be lying to you if said that I couldn’t make these strings sing since I was this big.” He held his open hand parallel with the ground at waist level.
“So when I had that epiphany. When I realized what I wanted to do with my life. That Friday when I got my paycheck, I went to all the music stores in this town. Each and every one of them. And for the first time, I fell in love.” The violinist said while his eyes watered up ever so slightly. He set down his violin in the empty case and gave the body a soft pat.
“She could sing like nothing I’ve ever heard before. She was beautiful. And, I decided in that store that I would spend the rest of my days with her.” He smiled as his eyes glassed over from reminiscing about days long past.
“So, you gave up your job, your life, everything for this? To play a violin everyday?” The businessman asked in complete disbelief.
“Son, I’ve always been a man of my word. And when I made the promise to play this violin everyday, I assure you, I was not going to fall through on that promise. So to answer your question, yes. I did give up the life I hated for this.” The violinist now said, defending his life choices from a boy who couldn’t possibly understand his situation.
“To be happy?” The businessman asked further.
“Exactly.” The violinist replied with a quick nod.
“I don’t think I could ever do that.” the businessman said while zoning out in thought. The old man chuckled.
“You could. The real question is whether you would let yourself actually follow your dreams.” He bent down to his case once more and placed his bow beside his precious instrument. Sealing up the case, he flicked both buckles shut and fought against his old, worn-out knees to stand back up. He turned to the businessman and smiled while nodding his head.
“Well, son. I would love to chat all day but, I gotta get going. Dinner isn’t going to make itself.” The violinist said with a slight chuckle. He nodded to the businessman once more as he clutched his case tight, “I’ll be seeing you tomorrow…”
The violinist began to walk away. The businessman stood in place like a statue. He stared where the violinist had just told him about the secret of happiness and was lost in thought. After a few moments, his mouth curled into a smile. The old man turned around and saw the businessman’s smile.