The Guitarist in Another Parallel Universe

In a small rural village, a young man and his wife were struggling to make a living through farming, like most of the other villagers. Of course, why shouldn’t they, it was the Great Depression, after all. Every day, the family and the other villagers watched as their farmland slowly turn into a dust bowl. Children were starving, poverty was common, and money was luxury.

But as it turns out, the young man was also a music prodigy, and he still has a dusty and battered guitar. He loved it so much that he did not agree to sell it even though they’re broke, even after a furious (and destructive) fight with his wife, where she slammed the guitar on the wooden bed. Fortunately, the guitar only cracked a bit, which was patched by some tape. Months of dust made it tough. But even though the guitar was half-broken, it still could pump out some gorgeous melodies.

Every week, the young man would sit by the campfire in the evening, and he would play his guitar with his strong, long and tanned fingers. The villagers and his wife would sit around him, and they would be mesmerized by the melody. Sometimes, the campfire seem to dance with the tune. And every time, the sun seems to stretch his neck to hear the last of the music before setting, and the moon seems to climb extra fast to catch the melody. Every week, the music would bring deep peace to the heart of every villager. It was gorgeous, bordering on magical. After years of starvation and poverty and depression, the music was what gave them hope.

However, the young man was also quirky. Since the music was his masterpiece and it was so valuable, he put a blanket over the guitar neck whenever he played so no one could look at his fingering and copy his song. The villagers did notice that, but they did not care because they have no need to copy it. So the blanket continued its function until a foreigner came to the village.

So one day, a foreigner came to the village. This was a foreigner who’s been to cities big and small. He has witnessed the full destruction of the Great Depression. He came with a beret and an enormous backpack. He asked the villagers if he could stay one night, and a family gladly accepted him even though they’re, like others, very broke. And, what luck, the foreigner arrived just in time for the legendary concerto.

After the concerto ended, the foreigner was entranced. He was immersed, he was captivated, he was mesmerized. But more than all, he was fascinated. If this one man’s magical little tune can keep the whole village faithful and happy, he thought, why can’t it make the whole world faithful and happy? It was a remarkable thought. All around the world people were losing hope, descending into self-pity. That is what caused the Depression to continue. If the tune’s magical healing powers can spread to the world, it can end the Great Depression!

So the next day, the foreigner talked to the young man, not knowing his quirkiness. Here’s approximately how the dialog went:

“Hey, man! What’s up?” said the young man as the foreigner walked onto the his porch.

“Just chillin’ [I’m not sure if people back then reply that way, but it’s close enough]. Hey I thought I might speak with you about something. Mind if I sit here?”

“Yeah sure sure….”

So the foreigner sat in a chair next to the young man, who is also in a chair.

“You know the tune you played last night? It was pretty brilliant….I was stunned!”

“People usually feign modesty when complimented, but I think I’ll just come off as fake if I do it here. So…I’ll just say: I know right???”

“Yeah, ha ha. So why do you even play these songs?”

“Why? Well, people like them, the tune is brilliant, why not? Plus, I like to make people happy, it makes me feel better, too.”

“And was that a blanket over your hands when you were playing?”

“Yeah, I place the blanket over the guitar neck because I don’t want others to steal my song, because it is my masterpiece, and I protect it like it’s my child.”

“Yeah. You know, when Thomas Edison invented the lightbulb, if he didn’t patent it, everyone would steal his idea and he wouldn’t make money off of it.”

“What’s patent?” the young man enquired, curious.

“If you patent the things you make, then other people can’t steal it and say they made it themselves. But think though, if not letting others see what you are playing, aren’t you only making your village happy? If everyone in the whole world know how to play your song, then the whole world will be happy because of you!”

“But that means they will pretend they created the song themselves and my name will be forgotten.”

“The thing is, they won’t. Famous musicians created songs that everyone can play, but all of them know who created them. People won’t forget you if you make them happy!”

“Ok,” the young man said, uncertain.

The foreigner paused for a bit, then said, “How about this, you and I can travel to a big town, and you will play your song to a big crowd, on the condition that you do not cover your fingers with a blanket?”

“What? But what about my wife? She needs me for farm work.”

“We will only be gone for a few days, farm doesn’t need care that frequently. Plus, you’ll even get some big cash playing concerts.”

“Oh, alright then,” the young man thought for a long while, then said, “I guess I’ll go. I’ll pack up my guitar and clothes.”

After a tearful farewell with his wife and the villagers, the pair embarked on their way to a big city.

A few days later, they arrived. The foreigner said that the young man can just sit down on a bench on start playing his tune. So he did.

Immediately, a couple stopped by to listen. Then, a person came. Then another, then another, another and another. Soon a crowd formed around the young man.

The waves of peace and serenity spread through every one. The wave spread through every piece of flesh, nerve, and muscle. Where there had been stress and misery, there was now none.

Among the colossal crowd there was, listening intently, another guitarist. She had wavy brown hair and a round face. A pair of huge round glasses with thin brown frames perched on her nose. She wasn’t as good as the young man at playing guitar, of course, but she was aspiring and hardworking nonetheless. She remembered the fingering of the magic tune by heart while she was listening, and when she got back home, she played out his tune, and went to sleep.

The next few days, she taught all her friends how to play the tune, and quickly it spread. Soon, almost all of the guitarists in the town knew how to play the tune. You could hear the tune in parks, near benches, in homes. And then a traveling businessman who also played guitar learned the tune, and now the fame spread to that other town, too. And then another traveling businessman learned the tune, afterwards another, followed by another. It is like an enormous domino explosion; a viral video of the 21st century, if you will. The tune went into the center every heart it touched, like a sweet healing arrow, with honey dressing. The people who listened to the tune stopped whining and self-pitying, and started looking for actual ways out of their misery. It cleared their minds to the present, they gained a clear view of their life. Everyone everywhere was now looking for solutions and paths out of the Depression. So you can’t help but think: if everyone was busy ending the Great Depression instead of whining about it, then the Depression should end before the end of the decade!

And indeed it did. So in this parallel universe, there wasn’t any WWII, or nuclear explosions. We don’t celebrate Winston Churchill, or condemn the Nazis, instead we remember this young man, who played his beautiful tune on his dusty and dull guitar, the young man who became The Guitarist in Another Parallel Universe.

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