The Real Thing

The Real Thing

Did you ever notice that imitations just don’t substitute for the “real thing’. Take butter, sugar or coffee Just because you get use to margarine, Splenda, or decaffeinated doesn’t mean that you can’t tell the difference between real and the substitute. The classical music station on the radio filters through my house from breakfast until I leave late in the morning for work. The music sort of irons out the wrinkles as a bustle around making certain that, since my house is up for sale, I leave everything in good order. However, no land-mark recording of the world’s best orchestra nor or the world’s greatest musician can match a live quality performance for transporting one’s soul to a land beyond every day stress.

Last night, a performance of the Piano Quartet No. 1 in G minor, Op. 25, written when Brahms was 28, sent me over the moon. The musicians were all young professionals who study at Julliard or Curtis and who play all over the world. Not only had the work energy and drive, common to young players, it soared and softened in perfect rhythm. For the first time in many years, at the end, I yelled, “Bravo”, louder than anyone. I felt lighter than air.

Of course there is a down side to the “real thing”. We are so use to blood and guts and murder and mayhem coming into our living rooms on the news or in made for TV shows or films, that, other than a slight elevation in blood pressure, or a jaw-dropping, “I can’t believe that”, we often stifle a yawn and change channels. Earlier this week, I had another kind of “real thing” experience.

I traveled by bus with a group of senior citizens to a museum located on the grounds of the First Defense Airport which is located in Southern New Jersey. This was the airport where the first pilots in World War II began training. The museum housed memorabilia from that time in our nation’s history. Little did I know that the museum included items from the enemies in that war. It is one thing to see Nazi soldiers carrying Nazi flags, or throwing Nazi hand- grenades; it is another to see those real items from two feet away. I could handle the helmet and the hand-grenade. But, the swastika and the SS insignia sent chills up my spine and turned my heart to ice. Turning on my heel, I made my way to the exit, stepped outside and took a deep breath. Sometimes the “real thing” is just too real.

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