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Senior Correspondent

Lately, the notes of this particular composition increasingly vie for my attention. They are as seemingly real as these keys beneath my fingers, but when viewed in the cold light of day, to quote Billy the Bard (we are very close), "they have melted into air, into thin air .  .  .  and leave not a rack behind."

My wife and I went to Colonial Williamsburg over Thanksgiving and, as always, attended a concert in the Capitol. The room is large, but it’s not huge, and lit only by candles. We sat in the back row where we could see the hands of the harpsichordist, whom we have come to love over the years. About midway through the concert I noticed a woman sitting in the front row, catty-corner from us. The mannerisms were unmistakeable: the glances at her partner, the profile. What’s it been, 15 years? There she was. Or was she? My eyes are not what they used to be and the candlelight was deceptive. But still, maybe. It could have been a woman who had bewitched me for more than a little while. Approach? Acknowledge? However, the bard again, "that way madness lies." So I returned my attention the harpsichordist who had told us, sadly, that he would retire after the holidays and deserved my full focus. After the concert the woman and her companion left with nary a glance in my direction. Obviously not her, right?

Still, add to that an incident a few weeks before. I had stopped at the pizza place across from the office for a quick lunch.  From the booth behind me two voices became clear — two guys with whom I had gone to high school. The nuances were unmistakable, the references plausible, the laughter spot on. These had been good friends. There was absolutely no doubt in my mind. But there were a couple of problems. Ken had sort of disappeared after graduation. No one really knew where he went and no one had been in touch with him. Facebook drew a blank. And yet there he was deep in conversation with Alan, whose fate was known. Alan, as the narrator in Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol” informs us, was, like Marley, "dead as a doornail.” When they rose to leave, the illusion shattered. Both were alive and the ethnicity was wrong.

Finally, on a recent walk with my wife along the Miracle Mile in downtown Chicago, I paused at a crosswalk. A young woman turned around and looked at me from no more than three feet away. It was Julie, my first serious girlfriend from high school. She stared straight at me, smiled, and slowly turned away. She had not changed at all in 50 years. It took me a moment or two to realize that, unless she had spent the last half decade hanging out with Peter Pan in Neverland, she was simply not who she appeared to be.

Why, suddenly, are these people showing up around the seams of my reality? I’m not at all sure, but I have a hypotheses. It takes us back to the first tenet of “Distilled Harmony,” foster harmony. (If you are, understandably, a bit fuzzy on the ins and outs of “Distilled Harmony,” I'm not going to explain all the physics here, but you can catch up atwww.distilledharmony.com.) The underlying notion is that there are people who are literally, physically harmonic or discordant with us.  Their DNA consists of strings that are either harmonic with or discordant with ours. The result can be "love at first sight" or "instant creepiness." You have probably experienced one or both phenomena.

I am thinking that previous powerful experiences apparently have broadened my sensitivity to certain "genres" of individuals. Were any of those individuals who I thought they were? Maybe. But, perhaps, and more likely, the mannerisms of the woman at the concert, the voices in the cafe (certainly the one of my friend who is dead as a doornail) and the facial features of the young woman on the street were "close enough" to fool my memory. They were chords so similar to ones with which I had been closely, powerfully, associated, that the concertmaster in my mind nudged "close enough" right over into "the same as."

Good? Bad? Depends. If the previously associated chord is discordant, we just shake our heads, "Whoa. I'm pretty sure he's dead. Can't be him."  We walk away. If the associated chord was harmonious, however, the experience is largely positive. Perhaps we literally "re-call" them to "re-animate" them for a little while. In our minds, we take their hands again, free from whatever complexities might have bedeviled or terminated our real life relationships, and wander down a path comprising purely pleasant memories. Beneath the gentle parasol of peaceful forgiveness, like that which dreaming often brings, we can smile, and say a quiet thanks for another moment that fosters, and maximizes, the harmony in our lives.


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