We live in a small school district in Northwest Ohio. How small? Well, when my oldest daughter graduates next year, she’ll have about 50 students in her graduating class. That means the entire high school is around 200 students. Some of my readers are likely gasping at how insanely small that number is, while others are identifying with the small school feel. Either way, each year, our school puts on a talent show to showcase the skills of the students and to just have fun.
…Except last year.
Why not last year?…you ask. Let me explain. The fact is that these talent shows come with prize money. The winner gets $75 and to a normal high school kid, that’s a lot of money. So, my daughter, Kya, happens to like money and thought to herself that this would be a path to grab a quick 75 bucks. So… what’s her talent?
She has an ear for music and plays the piano, mellophone (ya, I don’t know either) and French horn. She also has perfect pitch. Which means if she hears a note, she can tell you if it’s sharp or flat. Odd, but true. As she thought through what to play for the 2021 PG Talent Show, the song You’ve Got a Friend in Me on the piano became the top choice. Months prior to the Show, Kya began to painstakingly figure out, play, and ultimately memorize the entire song. To be clear, the song is roughly 10 pages of complicated sheet music, and yes… I said memorize. Quite the feat! Quite the talent… if she could pull it off!
Need I remind you that there was money on the line and a purchase on the horizon. She wanted combat boots. And her horrible parents wouldn’t buy her any of these $100 fashion statements because we’re wise enough to know that a) that’s too much money for shoes and b) her feet will grow. But, we told her, if she had the money, she could certainly buy them herself. And that became her sole focus, her #1 goal. Hour after hour she sat at the piano to learn the song, repeat that measure, play through that section, don’t forget the mezzo forte here and the crescendo there. During those few months, my guess is that she played and worked on perfecting that song over a thousand times. Her mom and I had it mentally memorized as well, humming it randomly throughout our days. A catchy tune indeed!
Then, a week before the Show, the devastating news arrived. The teacher announced that not enough students had signed up. She needed 10 acts to make it worth everyone’s time, but she didn’t have that number. In an act of sisterly love, Eliana went to school the next day and told her teacher she’d sign up for an act if that’d help keep the Show on, therefore allowing Kya to compete for the prize. The teacher, while impressed with Eliana’s display of grace, said that even with her signing up, there still wouldn’t be enough acts to justify holding the Show.
Kya’s little heart was shattered. She had worked so hard on this piece. She wanted to showcase her talent and compete for the prize. But it wasn’t meant to be. With tears running down her face, she played the song to us in the living room on what was to be the night of the Show. And with tears running down mine, I wanted to run out and buy her a pair of the most expensive combat boots I could find. But deep down, I knew that I couldn’t circumvent the lesson: Life is full of disappointments. If I swooped in at every turn and made everything okay, Kya wouldn’t learn how to handle those disappointments. So, no Show…no prize…no boots.
Fast forward to 2022 and between then and now, Kya would randomly play that song on the piano, still from memory, and each time we would smile. She did such a good job. She put in so much work. She played it with perfection and passion.
This Fall, the teacher put out the signup for the 2022 PG Talent Show. And in a short amount of time, over 10 acts had signed up…including Kya. But this year there was a different goal. She got a job this past summer at a local produce market, so the boots have long since been purchased. This time, it wasn’t about winning the money. It was about showcasing the talent that God has given her. She just wanted to perform, and to perform well. She wanted the audience to enjoy the song and experience the joy of a well-performed piano piece.
The night of the Talent Show, there were magic shows, dances, voice solos and stand-up comedians. And, as fate would have it, there was a piano piece, the last act of the night, Kya performing You’ve Got a Friend in Me. As she made her way to the stage and sat down at the piano, she carefully adjusted the seat to her liking. Before the first note was struck, I reminisced about the circumstances that brought us to this point. The hours worked, the memorization, the disappointment…but now was her moment. I teared up wishing Mom was there to listen, to encourage, to hear Kya in her element. Yet, in my heart, I knew she was.
And for the next several minutes, the audience was transfixed to the performance. On stage, a beautiful 14-year-old girl with a talent in her heart and a gift revealed to many. From memory, Kya played the song with elegance and precision. As the last notes were struck, an eruption of applause roared through the auditorium as Kya stood and took her obligatory bow. The fate of the evening rested in the judges’ hands. The envelope with the results was handed to the emcee of the evening. The announcement proceeded…
2nd Runner Up: The Magic Show
1st Runner Up: The Gymnastic Dance
And the winner of the 2022 PG Talent Show! …
We went home that evening and I gave Kya a big hug. “I’m proud of you, Kya. I know you put a lot of work into that song. You worked hard on that, and you finally got your opportunity to share it with the world.”
“Thanks Dad” came the reply.
“What are you going to do with all that money, Kya?” I asked.
“I don’t know Dad, I may keep it for a little while.”
No doubt, a reminder of how life has a funny way to turning disappointments into displays of hope.
I don’t know where Kya’s musical talent will take her, but I do know that she understands that life doesn’t always turn out the way we’d like. Disappointments happen. But we have a choice. We can turn those tragedies into triumphs, those stumbling blocks into stepping stones, and those lessons into opportunities to learn.
What about you? What disappointment has got you down and out? Take heart, this too shall pass. Life will get better. And, when things get really bad? Life isn’t meant to be lived alone. Reach out to a friend, a loved one. And feel free to hit reply on this blog, I’d love to hear from you. I’d love to offer you the encouragement you need to fight another day. Because, well, You’ve Got a Friend in Me.