Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Secret Identities

I spent eleven hours last Monday watching magic.  Went over to my kindred spirit pal's studio, where he's doing an amazing thing: writing thirty songs and posting them on his facebook page, one for every day.  He's calling it "The 30 Day Challenge."  He's up to eighteen.  His name's Michael Simeone and he's probably the most talented person I've ever met personally.

We work at the restaurant together.  I had no idea he was a rapper and a master lyricist when I first started working there.  I just assumed he was a friendly kid with a hilarious personality who was pretty much beloved by everybody there.  When I first heard him "spit" as he so grossly calls rapping, I was stunned to tears.  Talent.  Enormous talent right in front of me, hidden behind the waiter uniform and heavy trays.  Just like I was hidden, just like so many people who are in dead end jobs are hidden.

On Monday, I was basically there for moral support.  I occasionally dropped a line such as "I hate that" or "it doesn't fit" as he spun verbal gold from thin air, but all in all, Mike did it all himself.  I scribbled down lines and doodled on the notebook as he worked the microphone.  Two other people from work drifted in: George, who has a lovely velvety voice and Katie, who I didn't even know sang.  George is working his dream; he sings all the time in many different shows, working at the restaurant for rent money as he chases his soul on stage.  Katie works two jobs and struggles to pay off her student loans.  All of them, all of us, are cheerful people at the restaurant, happy to see each other and hard working at a job none of us like. But in that room, that tiny little studio, I witnessed magic.  True magic, not a card trick or flash of light distraction.  I watched these people transform.  Everything changed as they slowly peeled off their shyness and began to create music, opening up in a way that was totally unexpected, like seeing a huge rose bloom out of a violet's bud.  They came alive.  They became what they always secretly were.  What was hidden was now in full sight and I was blinded by the astonishing beauty of it all. 

That's the fascinating thing about people.  There is always talent, great talent inside everybody.  Most people don't see it, few recognize it and often the gifted individuals themselves can't identify it.  They shrug it off as something that they simply "like to do" as if that were silly or a bit embarrassing.  "I know it's weird but I like to do it."  Tossed off as a nothing.  I once read an article on career advice by a psychiatrist.  There was a great line which read if you want to figure out something you'd love to do as a career, think of what you liked to do when you were in kindergarten and then figure out how to make money at it.  There were references to a man who loved building blocks and erector sets as a kid who went on to become an architect, another who loved toy cars and went on to design race cars, a girl who loved to make mud pies and grass clipping spaghetti who was now a successful chef.  Good advice. 

I believe everybody has a hidden super hero of gifted whatsit inside of themselves.  Watching that group of people come alive, glowing like a Christmas tree with the sheer joy of creatively using their talents, simply reinforced that fact.  All of us, even the fuckups and miserable, have hidden majesty inside.  The daily grind of hauling garbage, serving food or digging ditches is simply a way to make money, and that often becomes a trap.  Of course you have to have money to live.  But don't ever give up on your dreams.  The wait staff uniform is simply...your secret identity.  You're all like Superman, you know.  Clark Kent looks like a miserable loser but that clever fucker can fly.  So can you.  Don't ever give up on your dreams, whatever they are, and always remember that even though the daily grind in a dead end job is something you have to do, like brushing your teeth, it doesn't encompass who you are.  You're all super heroes.  Tap into that hidden talent and let it soar.  It's in there, believe me.  Take a breath, dig it out, and fly.

Love, R

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