Lost in the Heart of the Moment: The Authors Collection
August 16, 2015
IN 1975, A CONCERT never to be forgotten by anyone who thrills to piano music and lyrical jazz took place in Köln, Germany. An American pianist sat for 66 minutes and improvised a musical composition. Keith Jarrett, totally part of every note he played invited an audience to meet him in a place where even the spaces between the notes were musical. You can hear him humming to himself at some points, tapping his foot at others and even sighing. He was there in the heart of reality—the moment, and he took those who were willing with him.
The composition he created was complete unto itself, not unconscious rambling. To my writer’s heart it would be akin to creating a novel in one sitting of a quality that smacked of an edited, proofread copy ready for printing. It is the sort of art we can create, life we can live, were we willing to leave our minds behind and instead hand ourselves over to our resident power, that which gives us breath at its most basic level and exquisite creation at yet another.
People refer to Jarrett as a genius. I think it’s much more than that. He is, for whatever reason, a human being who knows how to tap the source of life within himself, to dissolve into the moment—as Pama Rab Sel addresses it: “I mean most particularly the intense, specific moment hidden within the apparent motion of mundane activity both within and without.”
There is much talk these days of being present, living in the moment, being mindful. In most cases such talk is merely an idea we employ to assuage a growing emptiness as life goes on without any lessening of the mundane or increase in the extraordinary. So when another human being comes along who’s willing to step off the edge into the heart of the moment in a manner he can share with others, it behooves us to step off with him. As one reviewer, Jesse Kornbluth, states, “He doesn’t pay rapt attention; he is rapt attention. And so are we when we join Jarrett there.
Jarrett was thirty years old at the time of the Köln Concert. He didn’t sleep for two nights before the concert. The piano was a Bosendorfer, not his favorite. He’d had a bad Italian meal. He was, he felt, so unprepared to play that he almost sent the engineers home. But then he went home instead, gave himself over to the expansiveness of the reality that contains us, is us and sat down at the piano to make the Köln Concert history.
We tend to misconstrue the moment as some sort of heightened experience, something grand, out of the ordinary. It just doesn’t happen to be so. Rather it is life experienced when freed from mind and its constant prattle.
In the words of Pama Rab Sel: “ Whatever has been is gone. Whatever will be does not yet exist. In this space we reside. Don’t give it another thought. Expand this space. Sustain this moment….Remain steady in the Stillness.”