Last week I went to a cultural arts event here in Manizales, Colombia. A few artists took the stage and performed various forms of dance, music and literature. One man stood out above the rest, with a finale that left the audience completely speechless.
If you ever had brief moments where the thing you always dreamed of doing, or being, or standing up for comes creeping up from the depth of your being, but fear of standing alone has stopped you, I hope this will spark something within you.
He was introduced as the next performance and would be taking the stage to share some of his latest poems. The silhouette of a young man seated in the fifth row within the audience, got up and walked on stage.
Everyone stared in shock and disbelief. Whispers suddenly filled the air as they waited for an announcement that there was a misunderstanding and the young man would be escorted off the stage.
That’s not what happened.
Instead, the young man wearing studs and earrings all over his face; eye brows, nose, lips, tongue, cheeks and who was covered in tattoos all over his arms, neck and face with his long, black hair tied in a ponytail, took center stage, stepped into the spotlight and addressed the audience.
He began by reading one of his most famous poems published in Colombia. He spoke with an eloquent and passionate aura which immediately captured everyone’s attention.
Now, they knew there had not been a misunderstanding.
This was the man who had written some of their favorite songs for various artists. He had published some of their favorite poems and short stories. For the first time, they finally were able to put a face on the man behind all these brilliant works.
At the end of reciting his first poem, he waited for the audience to stop applauding, kept the silence for about three seconds and asked, “I love surprises, don’t you?”
Laughter filled the room.
He continued to keep them mesmerized with a few more of his most recent works. He ended with a piece titled “Dare to Stand Alone.” After the applause, he addressed the audience one final time on a more personal level.
To all the parents and teachers in the room. Support and encourage your children and students to do great things. But, first love them for who they are. This way you’ll support and encourage them for what they really want to do, NOT what YOU think they should be doing. Success comes in many different shapes and sizes. An art of any kind is one of them. Don’t cheat your children and students from giving this beautiful country a taste of their beautiful, unique talents.
To the young minds in the room; I know it’s a wonderful thing to have someone, especially someone you love, support and encourage you in whatever you’re doing. But, don’t ever let anyone say you can’t do what you really want to do. Don’t compromise and settle in doing something just to get their approval. You may need to stand alone. They may walk away from you. It is better to stand alone in doing something you love than to have support and encouragement in doing something you hate. Spending a lifetime doing something you hate is the worst kind of loneliness. I promise you will never be alone when you listen to your heart.
He walked off the stage.
For about two minutes, everyone stayed seated in complete silence. Slowly, they stood up and walked away.