“No one has ever become poor by giving.” ~ Anne Frank
It was about 9:00 a.m. and already 35 degrees.
I was sitting on my backpack by the side of the Captain Cook highway in Australia wearing my red and blue superman pajama pants and dreaming of an iced latte. (I’m more of a mocha kind of girl, but I was in a life phase where I believed that sugar was the devil.)
I was sitting there because bus tickets cost $120 and I owned an impressive fortune of $60. I was hitchhiking about 2,000 kilometers north in the hope of finding some seasonal work picking fruit. To make it until then, I was planning to earn a living from the sound of my magnificent handmade ukulele. So far, it had only gotten me enough money to treat myself to one meal a day and a fancy apple juice from time to time. Considering the quality of my playing, you can call this a blessing.
On that special day, it seemed like the sun had given himself the mission to fry the earth as little, strange, frog-skin bubbles started appearing on my shoulders. I was literally being cooked alive. I grabbed my bag and started to walk by the side of the road, hoping to find some shade, but there was nothing ahead, no tree to be seen. Half an hour later, my skin singing hallelujah, I stumbled into a friendly truck stop, with spirit-lifting air conditioning and soul-warming coffee. What a lucky duck!
Once inside, I went crazy and impulsively spent 10 percent of all my fortune on a cup of pure happiness. To enjoy this special moment, I found myself a quiet and comfortable spot by the window, sat on the floor and took out Jacques, my ukulele. Three sips of coffee and one song later, a little boy, of about nine years of age, who clearly shared my super-hero fashion sense in his black and yellow batman t-shirt, came up to me and asked, ‘’Can you play The Lion King?’’ With the bright stars sparkling in his eyes, there was no way I could refuse.
“What do you think of Hakuna Matata?’’ I asked hoping he’d say yes because it’s the only one I knew. ‘’I love this song,’’ he answered. He sat next to me waiting for his private concert to start. His parents were looking at us from the McDonald’s line up and I gave them a warm comforting smile and went on with my show.
Never did I have such an enthusiastic fan by my side, and as the song went on, I could see how much he was falling for the magic of music.
“Would you like to learn to play?” I asked him. He enthusiastically replied with a loud yes. I put the tiny instrument in his hands and taught him my very first lesson. He was a quick learner and within a few minutes, he had learned a few chords and had a natural feeling for the sound and rhythm. His little tiny fingers were moving precisely from string to string. He was so focused and determined to get it right, that his tongue was sticking a bit out of is mouth without him noticing. I couldn’t help but smile, as I have the same habit when I get very much in the zone.
As he tried to find his own sound, his creative light was radiating brightly through every cell in his body. It made me feel privileged to assist such a special moment. Someone had just discovered a true passion, and I was there to witness the birth of it. Passionate people have this unique energy emerging through them that touches me deeply.
A few minutes later, when his mom and dad came to get my new favourite rock-star, I addressed the young boy and said: “If I give you Jacques, will you keep playing with him, every day?” Speechless, he happily nodded in agreement. ”This is a very special ukulele,” I continued, “and he has many stories to tell. He’s been my friend for a while but I can tell he likes you more. He’s yours now.”
His parents asked if I was serious. As I assured them I was, a few tears started rolling down his mom’s cheeks as the dad told me his son was dreaming for a while of playing guitar but they couldn’t afford the instrument. After many thanks, hugs and good words, we all went back on our own personal journey, with my turn now, to wipe tears from my face
It was time for me to keep moving and hit the road again.
On my way out, a truck driver came to me, touched by what he had just witnessed, and the kind stranger offered me a ride half-way to my final destination. We shared many life stories and great laughs during the ride. He took me out for lunch and we even made a stop to hike a lovely secret mountain that only the locals knew.
Once on top of this hidden paradise, in the peaceful presence of the absolute wildness, I thought to myself that was some powerful instant karma.
As for the kid, I will always remember how he butterflied his way softly and quickly in and out of my life, leaving me richer and wiser than I ever thought possible.
Author: Emilie Button
Editor: Cat Beekmans