A Once-In-A-Lifetime Feeling This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   Walking into the room, I felt scared. How could I relate to these people? What would I even say to them? They were different from me; they were homeless. I had this overwhelming sensation that when I looked into their eyes, I would feel guilty, perhaps because I had not donated enough to charity. My teacher looked at me and the rest of my group and explained that we were giving these people the gift of music. How could this be? I wondered. My question would soon be answered. She explained that it would break the boundaries that separated "us" from "them," and that for the time being, we would all be equal, because we would all enjoy the music.

I am a harpist and a member of a harp and flute ensemble. Slowly, one by one, we rolled our harps into the soup kitchen. It was nothing like I had expected. The people were instantly gracious. They kept saying "Bless you" and "Thank you, thank you!" We started playing. From time to time, I would glance up and see the expressions on their faces, expressions of joy and serenity. At the end of each song, we received roaring applause with a standing ovation. I had tears in my eyes. These people appreciated our music so much. The music was like a language, a form of communication. We were bridging a gap that I thought could never be filled. As a result, we became comfortable with each other. They started telling us stories about their lives. One woman told me about how her daughter used to play an instrument.

Suddenly, a man in tattered clothing stood up. "You know, I can play the flute" he said. The entire ensemble, including me, just stared at him. How could a man who is homeless ever have the opportunity to learn to play the flute? I thought. He pulled out an average-looking flute. The man took a deep breath, and, to our surprise, played a beautiful, rich melody. We sat in utter bewilderment. This man, who had just walked off the street, was one of the best flutists that I had ever heard.

My life hasn't been the same since that day. That man inspired me. He also reminded me not to judge a book by its cover. Everyone was so grateful. I learned that people are not so different after all. Music has always been (and will always be) a universal form of communication. I may not have given these people food or money, but for a little while, I gave them happiness and a memory to keep with them always. fl


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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