In some Chinese folklore, it is believed that the gods tie an invisible red cord around the ankles of those that are destined to meet one another in a certain situation or help each other in a certain way. I love this concept. I envision a red string attached to me throughout my life and everyone I meet touches it in some way, changing the course of my life.
It implies to me, that the meeting of someone new has an impact on both parties and shapes our future in some way. I can think of countless times throughout my life where this has held true.
One time in particular was when I met a man and musician, named Charlie Conquest. Those who knew him, knew him as Chas. Chas recently passed on from this world to play music in the heavens with countless other musicians who were taken from us far too soon.
I met Chas through this very website. He was a mandolin player (and probably played a host of other instruments too) and ran a music shop in New Hampshire called Hanover Strings. Chas used to write to me to comment on my blog posts, to let me know when there was a great event coming to town and sometimes just to encourage me to attend one of the Salt Hill sessions he frequented.
Our entire relationship was electronic until one day I decided to head down to a workshop with fiddler, Randy Miller, and then attend the session at Salt Hill Pub in Hanover, afterwards. That’s when I finally met Chas in person.
I knew from his emails that he was a fun-loving guy who was clearly passionate about traditional music. But to meet him in person, fun-loving and passionate are words that only touch the surface.
When I walked into Hanover Strings, Chas was helping a customer and literally stopped what he was doing, opened his arms, and with a big smile said “I’m so happy you made it!” Though we didn’t know each other for long, he made me feel like we had been friends forever. I knew right then and there what kind of man this man was. He was welcoming, joyful, inclusive and probably one of the nicest guys I’ve known. And clearly, everyone in the shop enjoyed his company, his shop and his music.
After the workshop, Chas made a point to ensure everyone knew about the session and that they were all planning to attend. He made sure not to leave anyone out.
When we arrived at Salt Hill, he immediately got busy moving tables and counting chairs to make sure there was enough for everyone. As people trickled in, he introduced me to everyone.
While he sat and played is mandolin, his smile never left his face. He was clearly enjoying every moment of a good session and relishing in the tightness of the community that he was a part of, and probably helped create.
What he didn’t know was that I was going through a hard time at the time I visited and his graciousness not only altered my mood but brought so much happiness to my heart. It felt so good to be welcomed right into a tight-knit community of talented musicians, most of which I’ve never met before.
Unfortunately, I never got the chance to see him again in person. And I never got the chance to express how he made me feel that day. He did, however, make a point to thank me for coming down for the session and workshop. Really though, it was I who should have been thanking him.
Since his passing, I’ve been thinking a lot about how our actions affect other people. And how through just one smile, or one hello, or even one email, you can significantly change the course of someone’s day, maybe even their life.
Chas is a man who will be sorely missed but will never be forgotten. Though our encounter was brief, it made a lasting impression. He will be one of many who was attached to my red string and has changed my life for the better.