We got the date wrong for the start of county fair and decided to head back to the farmer’s market in Cambridge behind Hubbard Hall. The town center was humming with activity – there was the weekly market in back, craft demonstrations in front, and, inside, the last performance of Mozart’s Magic Flute was almost about to begin.
Every member of our family who could sit still for two hours had seen the production, and each of us eyed the stage door with longing. In then end, my husband was the one to finagle a place to stand at the sold-out show, and I decided to drag Thing1 and Thing2 to the hardware store. So I kissed the Big Guy goodbye and bid a temporary adieu to the little piece of paradise behind the theatre.
We pulled out of the parking lot onto a quiet, residential village street lined with 18th century greek revival homes and community gardens. It was a perfect August day – not too hot and just enough puffy clouds to make you think you were in a Technicolor musical – minus the music.
I slowed down and pulled to the side to find something appropriately embarrassing to Thing1 on the iPod when I heard singing. At first I thought it was coming from behind us, but I knew there was an hour before the curtain went up. I looked up from my search and noticed a tall, robust man striding down the sidewalk toward us. The notes seemed to be coming from him. He got closer, and we realized that he was indeed the seemingly unlikely source of the jubilant tones.
We smiled at him and he, continuing his scales, smiled back at us, and suddenly I recognized him as one of the opera’s cast members. My own smile grew wider as I remembered the amazing performance Thing1 and I had seen the day before. Both of us chuckled as we enjoyed our private performance and we waved and even yelled out the window to congratulate him on his success.
I’ve seen this man in other local performances, and he is not a professional actor, but he gives his audiences – and his art – world class effort dedication and results. He was fearless waltzing down the sidewalk and singing. As he channeled the beautiful day through his voice, he seemed to vanquish doubt of any kind. Nowhere to be seen was any worry that he would not ‘make it’ in show biz or that he might not be perfect that afternoon. All that mattered at that moment was the day and the song.
He offered this joyful noise to the world, and we drove away savoring the gift of that moment. But three days later, I realized the song’s real gift was the talisman it became. It is the reminder that there are somethings a peasant can enjoy just as much (if not more than) a king. Most of all, however, this keepsake moment reminds me how many things we miss when we let fear decide that not being good enough is a reason not to try something new.