ELMS: Don’t quit your night job

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My night last Friday started off ordinary. It ended extraordinary.

I was out to dinner at Rock Bottom Brewery celebrating a friend’s birthday. There were eight of us in our group, and we were seated at a long table. Beside us, a chatty and loud party, mostly middle-aged couples with a few younger and older exceptions, was having a very good time, and we couldn’t help but people-watch.

We had just begun to speculate what was responsible for bringing these individuals together, when we were interrupted by beautiful singing. I looked over to find, much to my surprise, six of the men we were just talking about gathered together, mid-song.

If they seemed dissimilar as a large group, they were more so as a small one. There was a heavy-set gentleman with a kind smile; a short, snaggletoothed man who owned his baritone voice; an animated, middle-aged tenor; a more reserved, white-haired man with a beard; a “young’un” in his ’30s with receding hair; and a man who resembled my grandpa and sang with his eyes closed.

It didn’t seem possible that this odd-looking bunch could form what was, in my opinion, a stellar a cappella group, but there they were.

Our end of the restaurant grew quiet as we all listened to the quirky sextet harmonize away. When they finished, we gave them a much-deserved round of applause, complete with whoops and cheers.

After that spectacle, our waiter kindly informed the singing gentlemen that it was my friend’s birthday, knowing full well the charismatic group would jump at the opportunity to perform. Sure enough, a few minutes later, the six of them were out of their seats and excitedly gathered around our table.

They did a fabulous rendition of “Happy Birthday” and finished off their performance with a lively love song. We clapped again and thanked them, and as our food was served, another party quickly motioned the guys over to their table – they must have been jealous of our special performance.

As I munched on my delicious bacon cheeseburger and listened to them sing, I started to think about how wonderful it must be for them to still get together with friends and do something they enjoy. I imagined that they all probably worked conventional, middle-class jobs during the week, but somehow found time to pursue the art that makes them happy.

Maybe some of them at one time aspired to be famous singers, dreaming of performing on stage in amphitheatres packed with fans. It’s a dream that only becomes reality for a select few; most people in their position get a “real” job and forget about their passion.

But not these guys. They do what they love, and they do it in proudly in front of people they’ve never met before.

I didn’t expect to learn any life lessons on a typical Friday night out with friends, especially not from a haphazard bunch of men closer to my parents’ ages than to mine. But I came home that night promising myself to never quit doing something that brings me fulfillment just because I can’t make a living out of it or because I think I don’t have time. I think its time I dust my guitar off and crank out a few tunes.

It’s important to pursue your passions. Don’t give up on them just because they aren’t in your day job description.