My friend Justin is a big Songbird Sings supporter and is always looking for ways to get the big bucks rolling in for our workshops. We need the funding because no one has to pay me to facilitate the workshops. People are in need and I need to help them the only way I can...by encouraging them to turn their stories into song. But I have no business skills to speak of. The goal is to hire someone to do the business and I’ll go wherever I can to do the workshops. So a big donor would be…well I’d probably just sit down and cry from relief, especially because I know how soothing and transformative songwriting can be and how the process of doing it can take people out of the broken places …letting out what’s been squashed down so deep inside you, trapped and tormenting, through no fault of your own, through experiencing abuse as a child, violence in trafficking or in war or from domestic violence. The songs you write can set you free. At the very least it can be a cathartic jumping off spot for coming out of the darkness and realizing there is light even for you, in this life.
Now getting back to Justin. When Justin was 2 years old the doctors told his mother that he would never talk and that they should begin teaching him sign language. His mother said no no no. She and Justin’s father moved the entire family down to Baltimore, 7 kids, all so that Justin could get special speech therapy at Johns Hopkins. While there at age 3 or 4 or so, his best friend was Scotti. Scotti was in the hospital because his parents poured Drano down his throat. I understand this is not easy to hear, that anyone could do something so monstrous to a child, let alone hear it was his parents. Makes me want to scream. But Scotti was brave and Justin was brave. Justin learned how to talk and now talks all the time…always has questions and always remembers Scotti. And the thing he wanted me to tell all of you is that there was a nurse who helped the speech therapist. She ended up adopting Scotti. That nurse is a hero to Justin. A white nurse that adopts a black baby who will never speak…a hero because how many people would adopt a baby who would never speak. Justin wanted this story to be on the hospitals webs site but alas they would have none of that. Justin sees the work that Songbird Sings does, as somehow heroic; as heroic as this nurse was to Scotti. I don’t see it that way. Kind of weird to think of yourself as a hero when you’re just doing what you’re compelled to do by what often seems like a mystical source.
When I was younger, there was nothing that could stop me from writing songs. I had a deep need to connect and singing my songs for others was a way to do this. I was obsessed and the writing itself compelled me onward, no matter the multitude of doors that were shut in my face. Now I am compelled to help those who have been affected by such horrific abuse and violence. That I told you what happened to is enough for now. Believe me There are more things in heaven and Earth, Horatio, / Than are dreamt of in your philosophy [science]. In this case you can not dream up the horror that some humans have gone through. Scotti being one of them. Thank God there was a nurse who cared. No matter what our political beliefs, wouldn’t we have a wonderful world if we all cared what happened to other human beings who live on the planet? Love your neighbor as yourself. It all starts with loving yourself. Think about forgiveness too. You have to forgive yourself to love yourself. And you have to love yourself to love others. The only way out is through and the only way through is in.