Though he was a total stranger, I could not quit watching his facial expression and those eyes grabbed me and pulled me into his world and his joy. It was an experience I will not forget.
Eric often plays special events, benefits, fundraisers, etc., as most of our local musicians do. Many times they volunteer their time for worthy causes, but this event was a paying gig; yet certainly a great cause that helps our community and its citizens that have special needs.
It had been a whirlwind sort of week with my projects I am working on personally and gigs with my son, Eric. At this point I was ready for a change of pace. I looked forward to this show with great anticipation.
We arrived early, allowing time to view the art displays after Eric set up the sound system for his show. It was the annual fundraiser for Mobile ARC.
One room was filled with art created by those who are members of Mobile ARC. The theme of this year’s program was “A Starry Night”. It seemed appropriate the first picture that caught our eyes was of a beautiful starry night. The variety of paintings was huge; consisting of everything from abstract to intricate detailed roses in a beautiful shade of blushing pink.
Once we had examined the paintings we strolled into the next room that had a very long table (actually several tables end-to-end, making them appear as one). It was covered with artwork, featuring hundreds of items made of pottery as well as art in tin. Each was unique. I loved a large piece of pottery that had a single bird painted in the center. By the time I got settled and remembered it, I learned it had already been sold. Most of the art was solely done by members of Mobile ARC, however some pieces were jointly done by members who teamed up with local artists. Every piece was worthy of a new home.
Now it was 6:00pm and Eric began his show. This special event was located at Azalea Manor on Dauphin Street in Mobile, Alabama. People of all ages and all abilities danced to his music that night.
"We are all sentenced to solitary confinement inside our own skins for life"- Tennessee Williams
In my opinion, we are all born with abilities. We each have the gift of greatness, though most leave this earth never having understood that. You don't have to have a perfect body or mind. You don't have to be perfect to be WONDERFUL!
I found myself mesmerized as one man in a wheelchair, without the ability to move his arms or legs, was wheeled in circles close to the music in a rhythmic manner. This appeared to make him feel he was dancing.
I could not take my eyes off his eyes. It seemed those eyes were the only thing over which he had control. In this process, he danced to the music with great joy and appreciation.
This is a life that is immobile and deeply silenced by illness, yet he was lifted and his soul was soaring in the rafters. I nearly cried as I felt his happiness in my soul.
Many of the attendees chose not to dance but to visit with one another, while listening and clapping. The food was delicious and the music was uplifting to all who were there. I watched as some would stand at their table or near the doors and begin to bounce to the music with huge smiles on their faces.
By the end of the night the art work was gone. It was purchased and taken to new homes to be enjoyed for years to come.
As I visited with so many people, I realized we all the same. We think differently, we look different but we have hearts and minds that yearn to be free and joyful.
Years ago I noticed the people I have been privileged to know who have compromised physical and mental abilities, are the ones who are consistently happy. They smile most of the time. Their faces light up the moment they catch your eye and they greet you with a hug or a handshake instantly. These hearts are pure. They have no hidden agenda. They want nothing from you but peaceful co-existence. If we could bottle that and have everyone drink it, what a wonderful world this could be!
"Enthusiasm is the most important thing in life"- Tennessee Williams
Thank you Mobile ARC and all those who worked hard to keep things going smoothly and for sharing your time with me and Eric! It was a worthy cause that caused me to appreciate life even more. Thank you to the bright-eyed treasure of a young man who lifted my spirits into the rafters with him.