I made up a story about an old man who walks Vancouver’s streets. If you live here, you may have seen him before. He strolls down the street and sings opera at the top of his lungs. He’s actually really good. I mean, I know nothing about opera, but it sounds good to me.
It seems strange, right? This older man, hands in his pocket, walking along like a regular guy except that he sings. Out loud. Like, really loud. If you didn’t know about him, you would pop your head out the window and wonder what is going on. You’d turn your head left and right and then realize that sound is coming from this little man.
Okay so what’s the story? Hear me out. It's quite elaborate. Heartwarming.
As a little Italian boy, this guy (I haven't made up a name) loved to sing. He sang all the time. People thought it was cute and it wasn’t bothering anyone. Some people listened but most didn’t pay too much attention. He sang because he just loved to sing. It was so natural and felt so good to him.
But then he got older and he realized no one else sang like he did. Other kids started to make fun of him. The looks he got from people made him think there was something wrong with him. So he stopped.
Whenever the urge came to sing, he pushed it aside and become like everyone else he knew who didn’t sing. Even in choir-like settings when his voice would bellow over everyone else’s, he made it quieter. It was hard but he could do it.
His parents moved their family to Vancouver, where they found work and a small home. As the little Italian boy grew older, he forgot about his voice. But he also felt a strange and persistent sadness that grew within him. He always felt caged and eventually he became depressed. What was wrong with him? Nobody knew. They tried different medications, various doctors, but sadness became his prominent emotion.
One day he walked past a school yard where little kids were signing. He was hit with something he hadn’t felt before. His heart fluttered and for the first time in a long time he felt a sense of excitement. Before he knew it, his voice moved through him into a song he didn’t even know. But it just felt so good he couldn’t stop. He walked home and sang the entire way. He didn’t care about the looks he got, he actually didn’t even notice. He felt alive and so free. He finally felt good.
He was given a gift that was meant to be expressed. When he hid and suppressed it, he became depressed. And so now, every opportunity he gets, he is out there strolling the streets, singing at the top of his lungs, not for anybody else but himself.
Moral of the story: Discover, express and/or share your gifts. You're life will be better for it.
PS - I just did some quick research:
"Opera Man has been singing here for as long as I've lived in the lower mainland - which is a very long time. Nearly 20 years i can recall him singing around different neighbourhoods. He used to be more in East Van back about 20 years ago, but he tends to walk 2-4 km per night often in circles. He is more focused on the west side now.
He is friendly if you do not interrupt him. Also - do not interrupt him.
Haha, noted! This even supports my story :)