“Piano keys ?” 

Fiction. Based on a True Visit to Leo Museo.

by Mingjie Zhai

This journal entry is inspired by true events. Some of the characters, names, businesses, incidents, and certain locations and events have been fictionalized for dramatic purposes. Any similarity to the name, character or history of any person is entirely coincidental and unintentional.

You find royal blue on a window. You capture it without paying for it. You realize you don’t need to possess the thing for the spirit to manifest. You need a bit of faith. 

Annie says she is having breathing problems, so you recommend the Spiritual Warfare prayers when you were being spiritually attacked. You do not want to freak her out, so you don’t tell her that by virtue of her being on her mark, working towards her true north, there will be principalities after her. You hope that Team Jesus will prepare her for the battle, but of course you know that it is written there is nothing God will allow someone to go through where He has not already prepared a way out. 

There is always a way through hell, an exit strategy.

You don’t say any of this. 

Instead, you tell Annie, “Just read it. Trust me. It works. It works like a spell except it’s a prayer.” 

And operates on miracles instead of magic. 

But you don’t tell her that either. 

You’re learning to say your lines and let God and His supernatural team do the rest. 


Manifesting Your Power 




You can’t wield your weapon if you don’t have humility because humility is the weapon in the spiritual fight. 

Keep looking at the obvious. 

If someone is truly confident 

That he truly belongs to Christ,

Let him think to this extent;*

Let that person reconsider 

How of Christ he came to be,

And realize that as he’s of Christ,

So also of Christ are we. 

-2 Corinthians 10:7, P. 180 of Paul’s Poetic Scripture Rhythm and Rhymes

It’s a paradoxical Jedi move

The force is there.

There are fixed supernatural laws that exists.

Instead of trying to bend the law, let the law bend you.


True ART takes Acceptance, Relaxation (stillness)…and that take discipline…discipleship…a willingness to get chastised…accept constructive criticism…

And every disobedience 

We are ready to chastise

Whenever your obedience

You fulfill and finalize.

-2 Corinthians 10:6

And finally and most importantly, Trust.

For as to our authority,

If my boasting that I’ve claimed

Seems to be somewhat excessive,

I will not be ashamed. 

For this very authority,

Which to us the Lord bestowed,

Is to build up, not destroy,

And to you, that’s what we showed.

-2 Corinthians 10:8

Leo’s Self Portrait 

He realizes that all this time he has been training how to die.

The times you wanted to self destruct, you saw sin and could not stop its spreading.

You fell in to things to blend in and your soul rejected everything that was the false self so you drank, in hopes the insanity will end. Disliking the persona yet the persona you wear to seemingly fit in.

Now you see Da Vinci and know in his self portrait the same dissonance between the spirit and flesh warring for the soul. 

You wonder what regret he experienced when he sold some of his inventions to war efforts to climb up the prestige platform, to schmooze with the elites, to be part of the top crop of royalty. You wonder if he had any guilt surrounding the parts of his gifts that went towards mastering weapon efficiency to kill people more efficiently. 

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A man plays a violin solo on the Subway but nobody reacts and nobody gives money when the man goes around afterwards asking with his hat. It’s unsolicited and you cringe at the amount of people who chooses to ignore him. Perhaps that’s the way you’ve been approaching Rylie—the image of neediness, desperation, and “poor me—give.” 

People don’t respect poverty. 

Now that you’re past the half year mark things are sobering up to reality as reality is. The reality is that each person on the subway would rather be left alone, isolating to their own bubbles, reinforcing their own judgements, hardened in their compassion—not engaging with other people nor appreciating the value of music. 

The night before you saw a violinist…perhaps he was a good player, possibly top among his class playing the same beautiful song you heard at Caracalla Baths. He was playing before you entered the Da Vinci museum. When you came out, he was hovering over his instrument, cleaning and packing up. He had the most dejected, saddened face, and you thought…what is happening to us? Is it the water we are drinking? Or have we just trained ourselves to love things more than the ethereal? 

There is no obligation to pay for music but for lattes. Can’t music do more for the soul than a cup of caffeine can do? Yet, people demand nicotine and caffeine. You’re getting addicted to caffeine. You did not tip him though you had it in your mind you would, but when you arrived, he did not have his hat out. 

At the museum, Da Vinci stated that next to art, music is the most important part of life. You agree. You see it as one and the same. 

You believe art is how you integrate the alchemized shadows, something you’ve been meditating on…it had you staring at the paradise painting…the purple, the blues, the royal blues

The Ghost of Keats

You finished eating at the buffet, your “regular” spot now where you can have all you can eat and drink from 7 to 11, and begin typing away at the hostel lobby, editing the Playbook v.2.5. Keats and Shelley both want to talk to you so much so someone at the lobby asked if you were a client at their hostel, and you said no, even though you jacked their wifi.  

“I’m heading out,” you tell the guy who is kicking you out. You navigate on your phone and voila:

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To go or not to go…

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So you begin walking through the Spanish Steps to get to the home where Keats wrote the last of his poetry and passed over to the next realm. The library gives you an intimate glimpse into what Keats’ life was like the last few years of his life—it was mostly filled with remonstrations, of longing for unrequited love, of tragedy that were transformed into hope in his poetry—even if that hope is an honest reflection of his tragedy.  And perhaps by sheer virtue of honesty in the tragedy, there is a silver lining of a love story. 

You do read that the woman whom he pines for also loves him but because of socioeconomic status, of circumstances, the winds of fortune—with his TB illness and perhaps her family pressure for her not to marry a sick, poor, and seemingly unsuccessful poet, she married someone who could secure her with more material grounding. 

You take a picture where he died, and in the picture, it is discolored—the colors of blue and green and yellow. You wonder if it’s his ghost staring right at you. 

The Man who Manages the Basilica

A guy that manages the basilica tells you that Roxy can not be inside. You go outside and see a woman beggar, and you give her two Euros. The same man that shoos away Roxy is now yelling at the old woman in angry Italian. This angers you. 

You ask the man yelling at the woman, “Do you know Jesus?” 

He ignores you and continues to scold her. She leaves. During this entire tirade, there is a crowd of tourists just looking at this scene…nobody doing anything or saying anything. The scene reminded you of a bully in high school teasing a nerd while the rest of the kids were just standing by watching. You mustered up some courage to say something, and even then, you made a concerted effort to not go off because you can go off. 

When both the lady beggar and the manager leaves and it’s just you left with the tourists on the steps of the basilica, the tourists turn around and continue snapping photos, as if nothing ever happened. Nobody else besides you said anything. You are neither proud nor irritated, and it doesn’t shock you anymore that this is just the status quo. You did what you can do, and you trust God to do the rest. 

You bought the small ice water for two Euros not because you’re getting ripped off but because the brown man walking with a bag full of ice water needs the money. 


You walk down an alleyway with all the name brands—Bvlgari, Cartier, LV, etc. You see elegant gowns on dead mannequins, and then you see a woman on her knees, head down, begging, the onlookers just passing by…tourists with bags full of expensive dresses, expensive gear, as if that’s going to complete a part of them that needs completing, rather than sparing a few Euros to put in her cup…perhaps that extra Euro you give her would spare you of the tiramisu you would get after dinner so your body can put off the excess fat. 

You now hear both your father and kweisi tell you that nobody wants to part with their money over a pity-party “poor me” platform of poverty. Nobody wants to support a nonprofit based on heart strings alone. You know this first hand seeing the beggar in front of wealthy tourists who are look past her as if she doesn’t even exist, pretending to be distracted by sparkling this, brand that, and awesome…people who missed the point of it all.

It’s not more stuff or better things that will make your soul feel better. It’s the woman in kneeling position that you see in front of you that you can help. Forget socialism if you can’t even stop to put a few spare change in her cup. 

What if she’s really an angel in disguise of a beggar…what if Jesus was there in the mirage of a beggar at the doorsteps of the basilica…what would the scolding man be realizing about himself, the man who pretends he is managing God’s church when he can’t even be a good human being to the dispossessed? 

How can one see and not be depressed or at least saddened by the state of the human condition? Yet, you’ve managed today to accept what is and carry on with a joyful sorrow with the world. 

You’ve managed to walk up the Spanish steps and edit a few lines to the Producer’s Playbook. 

Keats-Shelley’s House:

You pay the 6 Euros so you can observe the house where Keats spent his last days with his friend Sven who nurtured him while he began losing his battle to TB. 

He knew he couldn’t survive another English winter, so he lived at the heart of Rome, at 26 Spagna, and at the time when he published, he sold very few books and only became known posthumously. His words stands on its own and that’s what you are hoping for in your own career. 

Perhaps his words are a nice reminder to you that time is of the essence and your lungs aren’t exactly operating at full capacity, so…get writing. 

There was an intro about Keats—he’s a dreamer, perhaps more of a manic love addict than you …back then they called it “Romantic” and now it’s called a mental disorder—go figure at the state of where we are as a society.

And you realize perhaps your parents are terrified of you operating alone in this world. Naive is the word. You trust too easily, but you take that after your father…the “the realist optimist.” Yes, most people are inauthentic and double minded, double tongued, but now you know it’s the shadow that exists —perhaps something we all have inherited, and now you believe we are soldiers for Christ divinely designed to be the mediator between two blood feuds…a family feud. 

You’re sitting on the subway in a crowded body of common folks, and you accept that you are that which you are sitting with. No delusions—just where you are at today and that’s okay. 

Smartie is next to you, both of you sober and ready to eat the 7 Euro brunch you found. Most of your life you’ve been operating at the first three chakras—actually, you observe, most people in this realm operate at this level—money, sex, power. Basic desires. Power, prestige, position.  

A young couple in front of you keeps sucking face, and you realize the people around them are thinking ,“get a room” but mostly out of envy because most want what this couple has —passion and youth.

You think back at when the Croatian man kissed you, and you felt your body turn soft and warm, your cheeks flushed, and you wonder what part of that is lust and what part of that is genuine love for a stranger.

Truth be told all the men you’ve ever dated are and were strangers. Did you ever truly know them, even Sonny, or were most character attributes you made about them just a projection of what you think they were? 


Smartie tells you the difference between description and explanation–she says that an explanation has an extra dimensional layer built upon description…

You interpret this as the distinction between static art and kinetic art, as observed by James Joyce. Static art is what is and the latter is designed to effect fear and loathing or desire on the observer…essentially an attempt by the artist to manipulate the observer—transforming the observer from traveler into consumer.

Perhaps that’s why it’s taking the time it takes on The Love Story project to process the Producer’s Playbook—so it doesn’t end up in the mainstream category of kinetic art—today’s news is tomorrow’s forgotten dream and Keats’ poetry book, “Love is my religion” is still relevant to present day today. 

At least for manic love addicts like yourself it is. 

And so is Joyce. 

Lust Daemons in A Portrait of a Young Man as an Artist


Static art.

And it makes a world of a difference that The Love Story project is being and becoming static art. 

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A world of a difference. 

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