Mr. Lopez Meets Mr. Ayers

Every night for the past two weeks I have been reading Steve Lopez's book The Soloist about Nathaniel Anthony Ayers. I have been getting to bed late due to all the pre-Christmas doings that needed to be done so I was only managing a few pages at a time. Yesterday, as part of my post-Christmas recovery program, I stayed in bed for an extra two hours reading and then took a two-hour bath and finished the book. It is the true story of a homeless man in LA suffering from schizophrenia who once had a promising career as a musician but was now living on the streets as he had been for the past 30 years. When Mr. Lopez met him, Mr. Ayers was sleeping in a tunnel by night, warding off rats with a stick and playing music by day on his violin or cello for his own personal pleasure- always in sight of a statue of Beethoven, his inspiration.

What an amazing story about the power of music to placate and inspire a mind so often plagued by demons. It is not a "cure"- Mr. Ayers is a paranoid schizophrenic who refuses medication due to bad experiences in the past but when he is playing music- or listening to it- the often tangled web of his mind becomes an open space full of inspiration, clarity and joy. I had seen the movie when it came out in 2009 but reading the book gave me a much greater insight and inspired me to follow up on the story. I searched on YouTube and this is the first video I came across. It is too good not to share. I was happy to see that there are videos of the real Mr. Ayers and not just clips from the movie and I am looking forward to watching more of them.