The Musician and The Writer: A Return Visit

ayerslopezMr. Ayers (pronounced “airs”) and Mr. Lopez have been friends for almost ten years. Some of you may remember their story from The Musician and The Writer. In it, I described their story as “a story about dreams and broken dreams and triumph (success) over broken dreams.”

Ayers was a promising (showing signs of future success) young musician who dreamed of playing in a professional orchestra. When he was 19, he began to study at the Julliard School, one of the world’s best music schools, in New York.

Ayers’ dream didn’t last long. He had a mental breakdown (became very depressed, anxious) and had to leave school. His condition grew worse and worse, and he ended up in Los Angeles, a street person (without a home) living under a freeway bridge.

Lopez, a newspaper writer, met Ayers while taking a walk in downtown Los Angeles. They became friends and he told Ayers’ story in a series of newspaper articles and a book – The Soloist – that became a movie.

Earlier this year, Lopez continued Ayers’ story and wrote about his battle in the Los Angeles Superior Court against a doctor’s recommendation to take anti-psychotic medication, medicine that would control his mental illness. Ayers argued (strongly gave his opinion) that drugs like these had caused very bad side effects (unexpected results) for him years earlier.

Lopez wrote that it was difficult for him to listen to the arguments. Part of him wanted Ayers to win. But the other part wanted to see if the medication might “bring him relief (freedom from his illness), clarity (clear thinking) and peace.”

The Court decided that Ayers had to take the medication. So he did.

Lopez writes that he began to see positive results from the medication a few weeks later. Ayers became “softer around the edges (easier to be with), more focused (able to pay attention), and more lucid (able to think clearly).” And there were none of the side effects that Ayers had feared (been afraid of).

Lopez and one of Ayers’ friends who used to work for the Los Angeles Philharmonic (orchestra) recently visited Ayers at the rehab center (place to treat mental illnesses) where he lives now. Ayers had prepared a musical concert for them, and when he finished, his friend said, “I’ve never heard him play so well.”

Ayers seems to be doing better. He’s improved enough that he is allowed to leave the center from time to time. One Sunday he went to church with one of his sister’s friends and played his violin for the people who were there. “With all due modesty*,” he told Lopez, “I brought the house down (made the people excited, happy).”

Ayers will always have to live with his illness. “I’ve got my problems, but I wanna (want to) be free,” he told Lopez. “I wanna be back out there, using every moment as if it’s the most precious (valuable) thing in the world. I don’t have any time to waste.”

Mr. Ayers’ dream continues.

* Some people use “with all due modesty” when they want to talk about something they have done but don’t want to sound too proud (satisfied) about it.

~ Warren Ediger – ESL coach/tutor and creator of the Successful English web site where you will find clear explanations and practical suggestions for better English.

Photo courtesy of Awesome Stories.


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12 Responses to The Musician and The Writer: A Return Visit

  1. Dan says:

    Hello Warren and thanks for this nice, inspiring story.

    For sure mental illness is bad. I know something about it because my ex wife was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

    But it was not just her. Even her father and sister had/have really strange behaviors. I saw very strange things while spending time with them.

    Her sister for instance, was used to suddently jump out of the chair she was on and run in the hallway.
    My ex father in law, when upset with someone, would go out in the garage and wave his arms in front of him like he was talking with someone.
    And he was actually talking! but with falsetto like voice, and the strangest thing that really left me wondering,is that he would violently scratch behind his ears like I have never seen anyone doing.

    I have never told this things to anyone. I am writing this just because this is going to be read only from people living abroad.


  2. Genji says:

    Nobody wants to have mental illness, but who knows.
    I wonder if I can be a person like Mr. Lopez.
    Thank you for a heart-warming story.

  3. Marcos says:

    Hello everyone

    So, who is normal? I say that I’m, but who knows! My best friend always said that anyone who think is normal never tried looking for help, so I say to you everyone who make an appointment at a psychiatrist always get a recommendation to take anti-psychotic medication or something like that. So, everyone is ill ou just the psychiatrist is normal lol

    Nice day to us

  4. Aécio Flávio Perim says:

    Hi, Dan, I understand you. You really had a big problem to deal with and I’m so sorry about that because no one deserves such a thing. I also had this kind of situation in my family. My grandmother used to walk away and shout when she felt alone. She was the one who raised me after my mother died and that’s because I loved her. Poor grandma! That’s that, Dan. I feel sorry for you.
    Aecio from Brazil.

  5. Aécio Flávio Perim says:

    Think about that: do you know why mad people are in asylum and we are free? Because they are minority. The day they become majority we will go to asylum and they’ll become free.

  6. Dan says:

    Hi there everyone.

    I really wish for this man the best. I hope the medications he is taking are going to make him better as it is reported.
    There are a lots of good people out there willing to help others. That’s a good thing to know, makes me feel better.


  7. Betty says:

    Amazing to find two “but who knows” in the two post above.

    Our brains are connected in this website.

  8. Dan says:

    I just fell in love with Janet Yellen’s accent and the way she talk.
    I would listen to her for hours.


  9. emiliano says:

    Dear all, we are a laboratory with legs, all our body needs substances to work propperly
    and our mind it is just the same as our liver, our lungs, or which ever other organ of
    human´s body.
    So, with a disease everything could goes bad, our legs, our arms, or our mind.
    ¿Why not?. Without oxygene our brain goes bad and died, the baby´s brain who is
    going to born suffers so much till the point of having a cerebral palsy forever.

    So, where is the human reason?. It means that everything, every biological necessary
    substance is going O.K., or when a mental disease like being mad, or senile dementia
    means this person is not any more a person with soul or some kind of feelings?

    Yes, sometimes some pills, or substance are necessary to our brain, to our soul, or
    to our headache.
    Just the same as to treat a cancer, a liver disoder, or a virus like Ebola or VHC.

    We all are a a biological mechanism that stops working properly at any time.
    The brain is an organ, complex and unknown that needs to be fed with other
    substances that come from outside. Wilthout them, or being inadequately fed, or by inheritance, or
    genes, stops working properly.

    Of course, that is my opinion after all.

    Be in peace dear friends.


  10. emiliano says:

    Even, have in mind that, if we live too much, it is probably wre are
    going to suffer mental dissoders by sure.
    Later or before that is the destination of most of us.
    Just a pity and very sorry, but that´s the truth.

    Like our legs, the brains could go bad because there is not enough
    blood, or which ever other disease.
    But it is not necessary to be old, it could happens every moment
    we go crazy, mad, or mental illness with all the trouble it means
    to our relatives and friends.

    Thank you Warren, it is good mystery subject the illness or human´s


  11. Tania says:

    Hi! I have remember of your post/ February, 2010 “the Musician and The Writer”.
    I am glad that Mr. Ayers can be more focused, and more lucid, and his dream continues.
    For all of us our dreams have to continue.
    And we have to remember that we don’t have any time to waste.
    The life is too short.

  12. Tania says:

    Hi! We use the word “lucid” with the same meaning, and recently the word “focused” with a different

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