The Radical Contentment of Flower Piano in San Francisco

To be alive is to search for content in all manner of ways and forms.

I come here each September to gesture among the flora. Forgetting; remembering. Wishing; wanting. Dancing in front of the refrigerator light that glows in some corner of my mind. It’s a time and place where I continue viewing happiness with a sideways glance.

As an individual whose manic depression has illustrated his adulthood, happiness is an emotion I hold in fickle reverence. It’s as fleeting as it is elusive — an endless chase for temporary fixation. Happiness exists in a cannon of touch and go. It never knows where to find you when it’s all said and done. It’s an enviable game of shadowboxing that never lands a tangible blow against whatever you’re fighting. It’s stop-and-go traffic behavior en route elsewhere. Somewhere. Anywhere.

This exact time last year, I wrote about joy in hues of ripe nightshades. I stand by that assessment: I’ve come to imply [joy] with more permanence; the notion that delight is not singular, but rather the amalgamation of multiple pleasures sprinkled throughout one’s life.

I can sit well with joy. I get restless next to happiness. I rest the easiest leaning on contentment, which is the understanding that joy exists in multitudes, collected and sent through a latticework of pylons.

Contentment is an aspirational emotion. I gravitate toward it, far more than, say, joy or happiness. It shoots lightning bolts through me; like my liked thumb and puts over an exposed wall socket. I come back to me — pleasure and passion, a reason to continue carrying this bag of flesh cellular detritus. Cancer cells and all.

Sat atop the main lawn inside the San Francisco Botanical Garden — a wonderland made up of some 9,000 different flora from around the world — this past Tuesday, I journaled toward semblances of synaptic pleasure. The soundtrack was familiar, though not routine for the garden. Between the muted thuds produced by a distant acorn woodpecker, human flesh met piano keys in splendid fellowship.

There’s an outright awareness of gratitude that washes over every cell in my body watching my pen mark up the paper in this setting. I hear the soft patter of distant applause as pianists end their performances. There’s an echo as laughter finds its way through redwoods. That unmistakable grandness of realizing you’re in arguably the best city in the world — your ears rich with piano melodies, oftentimes played at random by talented passersby.

This is Flower Piano. This is contentment. 

I can’t wait to jot down my thoughts in a Moleskine again this time next year.

Feature Image: Courtesy of Twitter via @SFBG

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