It was just one of those New York days--you bump into things that carry you in a completely unexpected direction from the one in which you set out. I went to MoMA to see Matisse, lingering long and lovingly over a blue painting called The Window. I wondered at the way the sheer white curtain became a film of light pouring over the floor...
On my way out, I happened to glimpse a work in progress in the Sculpture Court; it was a Wish Tree created by Yoko Ono.
People were filling out white tags, and tying them to the young, lithe branches.
The activity around the tree was unabated for the next half hour or so that I stayed to watch.
We were like bees, swarming to this sweet spot, and drawing sustenance from the very wishes we were leaving behind.
Later that night, I wandered into Central Park in front of the Dakota. I knew that it would have been John Lennon's 70th birthday, had he not been so cruelly murdered. As it happens, I was on 72nd Street, right across from the entrance to the Dakota, late that night on December 8th, 1980, when Lennon was shot. I was on my way home, and of course I had no idea what was going on; it was mayhem, police cars, ambulances, people gathering. Last night, I was drawn into the Park when I saw people coming out--it was around ten at night, and I thought I would go visit the IMAGINE plaque and pay my respects to John Lennon.
I found a crowd of people gathered round in a circle. Threading my way to the front, I saw that the mosaic was covered with flowers and candles. But the most remarkable thing was that everyone was singing--singing their hearts out. A couple of musicians were playing guitar, bass, piano; and there were fans there who knew every single word of every single song. Musicians dropped out--some had already been playing for five hours--and others arrived, unpacked their guitars, and began strumming. One man, named Scotty--I know because someone in the crowd greeted him warmly--was a wonderful guitarist, his fingers strong and nimble and the sound that came forth rich and warm.
Those who didn't know them found the lyrics on their iPads and sang along too. I joined in, and lost myself in the chorus of voices. We went through dozens of Beatles songs. These were songs I have been singing since I was ten years old, songs I sang to my own children when I was bathing them, or putting them to bed, songs that are part of the soundtrack of our lives. While we sang Yesterday, I found myself thinking about the blue living room, about lives that are interrupted, conversations that are halted, hopes that are destroyed. We sang and sang and sang, and when I left at midnight, people were still playing and singing. We created a joyous, beautiful, communal warmth. Imagine.