A few months ago I saw the acclaimed German movie Das Leben der Anderen (The Lives of Others). The movie is set in 1980s communist East Germany, and the plot revolves around the life of a writer and his fellow artists and how the secret police had surveillance on them, in order to detect any behavior or thought that went against the socialist ideology of the state, and consequently “re-educate” the offender. The movie does a wonderful job in capturing the oppressive atmosphere of the era and how many artists felt the regime had slowly killed their souls. A key element in the storyline is a piece of sheet music given as a gift to the main character by a fellow artist, it is entitled “Sonata for a Good Man”. To make a long story short the main character discovers, once the socialist regime is over, that the agent assigned to spy on him saved his life by not informing the police of his “deviant activities”. He goes on to write a book about his ordeal with the secret police and the anonymous man that saved him. The book is appropriately titled “Sonata for a Good Man”.
I don’t intend to write a movie review, there are plenty of those online. I simply bring up this film because for months now I’ve been wanting to write a piece on a good man that touched my own life, my father. So here it goes, here is my own Sonata for a good man:
The world doesn’t know it, but on March 8, 1948 a truly remarkable human being was born. He did not fight in any wars, he didn’t become an international leader, and no he didn’t inspire the masses with his message of hope and freedom. Actually he was more of the quiet kind, existing modestly, discretely and perhaps even anonymously. Very few noticed, but inside of him beat a heart capable of love and selflessness. Inside his body lived a sensitive soul, at times saddened by the realities of life, but also capable of appreciating the sensibilities of art, literature and music. Inside his head, there lay a highly critical brain capable of seeing the reality even through the nonsense. It constantly demanded that the truth be told and the foolishness of humanity be reprimanded.
It is my humble opinion that the remarkable qualities of this man shined more intensely as a father. His priority became to provide for his family and ensure a prosperous future for his children. I truly appreciate this, but what I value most is his many hugs filled with love, his words filled with wisdom, his sophisticated humor that resulted in endless laughs, and countless little gestures that showed how much he cared. These are the things that have endured inside of me; these are the things that have made me who I am.
The world doesn’t know it but on November 28, 2008 the world lost a remarkable man, a beacon of light that gave so much to those he loved. Sometimes it saddens me as I think that my father may have been already forgotten by some and that many didn’t know the extraordinary beauty that lay beneath his quiet surface. But on the other hand I feel so damn lucky that I was one of the few who were in contact of the full splendor of this man’s soul, and for that I am eternally grateful!
Here’s to all those day to day heroes who give so much without expecting any glory or compensation in return. Thank you to all those anonymous angels that make this crazy thing called life a little more bearable for the rest of us.