It's hard to know how to fully show someone your appreciation for what they do. A few days ago, Shimono-san gave me some of his time to listen to my excerpts, and because gift giving is part of the culture here, I thought it might be appropriate to give him something out of gratitude. Luckily, in Japan, most stores have lots of gift-able food items, beautifully wrapped and then beautifully wrapped again by the clerks. Prices range from a few hundred yen to several thousand. And so the question, what is an act worth? What is a person worth? And also to balance this with the inevitable indebtedness that this bequeaths on the recipient. To me, sometimes it seems that a gift undermines the feelings behind it. A large part of me wanted to leave the issue untouched. But I was truly appreciative and thought this might be the most interpretable way to express that.
I found some fresh, sesame gift mochi. It seemed small enough not to make a big deal out of it but a token at least. I gave it to him after the performance on Friday, as awkwardly as possible. How else does one express gratitude in a way that is short of what is actually felt? His musicianship and integrity have been models this whole week. I looked up at him during the Schumman symphony and saw in his face a sincere need, something deeply personal, something driving him to open his vulnerabilities and trust to the moment. A face of one who is being watched by no one. I wish I had looked up more often. Indeed, there is nothing graceful about giving someone mochi, or anything else, for that.
It's just what he does, who he is. He is a channel through which something is passed. There is nothing stoic, or proud in his demeanor. To whom, to what did I give? Is there some other way to show appreciation? I trusted him in the performance. Perhaps that should have been the end of it. At the very least, I hope my awkwardness in the giving expressed something, and that he enjoys the mochi.