HE HAD NOT BEEN CONSCIOUS of his fingertip at all, when it happened. Not, at least, as an individual thing.
All of his fingers, his hands, the feel of the keyboard, the structure and sound of the music, the rhythm in his feet and shoulders, the vibe of the crowd, had all been one grand, exciting, experience—flowing together.
The crowd had been with him, and he with them, with them being with him and the music, and it had all been one complex and beautiful whole.
He hadn't even separated himself enough to think that he was glad he had agreed to come back and play again, that he should have done it sooner.
Then the pain had begun, in his chest and arms, and he had had his first conscious thoughts—"Not now," followed quickly by "But what a way to go!"
Here, on the stretcher, he used the trick his father had taught him, rubbing his thumb and finger together to shift his focus from the pain.
Just the tips, moving softly in a small circle, and he shifted the frame of his consciousness back and forth.
First he was in his finger, feeling the thumb rubbing it, feeling what it was like to be the finger.
Then he moved into the thumb, feeling the the finger rubbing the thumb, what it was like to be the thumb.
Back and forth. It was something like that medieval school question: how many angels can dance on the tip of a pin?
The answer had been an infinite number, because angels were pure consciousness. Location, for them, was not a physical matter, but a matter of concentration.
Any number of angels could concentrating on a pin at once, without crowding. They were like light particles: able to be in the same place at once. Bosons, the physicists called them. Like light.
It was a matter of focus.
He was like an angel, in that way. He could be in his thumb, or in his finger, just by shifting his focus.
They were both him—the thumb and finger—yet they were separate from each other. A feeling in his finger wasn't in his thumb. An experience in his thumb wasn't in his finger.
And now, by concentrating first on one, then the other, he managed not to be in his chest.
He found he could even focus more tightly, on one part of his fingertip or another. He could focus on the part the thumb was touching, or he could focus on one spot, and hold still, feeling the touch of the thumb pass by.
It worked the other way, too. He could expand his consciousness, to take in his whole hand.
He flexed his fingers, as he had often done just before a performance, anticipating the feel of the keyboard.
Instinctively, he flexed the other hand as well, and suddenly he was in both hands—he was both hands. What a remarkable thing.
And, even though the hands were quite separate, even though he was not at all focused on the body between them, he could be in both of them at once.
With that thought, his focus expanded again, involuntarily, and he became aware of the body between.