Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old. Franz KafkaIt was her guitar case I noticed first. She held it tucked against her side, protective, possessive, caring. She walked into my office, shook my hand and said in her deep and husky voice, "I'm so grateful to meet you."
A co-worker had brought her to see me. She's a musician, song-writer, songstress. He wanted me to help her 'connect' with the music world in our city. "See if there's anything you can do to help her move forward," he suggested.
He followed her into my office, closed the door and after her greeting said, "Before we start to talk about what we came for, I wonder if there's anything you can do to help her with something that happened this morning?"
And they both proceeded to tell me what had transpired.
The second floor area of the shelter where I work is a big open space where meals are served. It's open all day long, from 6am to 9pm for anyone who wants to come and sit and relax, chat, play cards, read a book, watch a little TV, or simply rest their head on a table top as they sit on their chair. It can be very crowded -- we'll serve 1,000 dinners regularly -- and, because of the crowding, staff are always conscious of the need to maintain relations between clients. To 'keep the peace'.
That morning, she had been playing her guitar at the table where she was seated and a staff member had quickly approached and said, "We don't allow that here." He told her it was a rule and she was breaking it.
End of story.
"I don't get it," she said. "I've done the same thing other days and nobody's said anything."
I phoned down to the second floor Supervisor and asked, "Is it a rule people can't play guitars at their table?"
"Not really," he replied. "It's just if the floor is crowded, we discourage it because tempers can fly really quickly."
The challenges of managing 300+ people on the floor. When the staff to client ratio is anywhere from 50 - 1 to 100 - 1, rules are imposed on the fly.
We talked about other areas where she could comfortably play. "Other clients get upset when I play there," she told me when I suggested a corner of the Hygiene area.
"Would you be willing to come up to the music studio and volunteer?"
Her face lit up. She nodded her head. Smiled. "Absolutely. I'd love to teach singing. Harmony. There's lots I could do." She paused, touched the black case of her guitar. "Would you like me to play a song?"
And she did.
"Live each day out loud."
May you be as moved to live out loud as I was by her song.