Last Saturday night, I, along with some 200 other people at the HAMNI 20th anniversary dinner, witnessed a rare moment.If that doesn't get you excited, check out this Youtube video of Jake performing one of his latest songs:
It has been said that the whole secret to success in life is to find out what it is you're destined to do, and then do it. Each of us has a unique set of gifts and talents. Our whole purpose in life is to hone these unique attributes, no matter how great or small they may be, and use them in service to others. Many of us do indeed develop skills that we use for the benefit of humanity. Whether we are spending the majority of our waking hours as a doctor, teacher, mother, clerk or carpenter, we are contributing to the advancement of civilization. Many of us absolutely love what we are doing. But I think that many of us wonder if we are doing what we were created to do-if we are fulfilling our destiny. And this, I believe, was what was so enthralling about last Saturday night. We witnessed a young man fulfilling his destiny.
Those of us attending had received the invitation that said, “With music by Jake Shimabukuro, Master of the Ukulele.” Now, most of the time, when the word “master” is used, you envision someone a bit weathered by time-maybe someone in their 50s or older-I think of Master Yoda.
So it was a bit of a shock when “Master” Jake walked out with spiked hair, in a faded T-shirt and jeans, looking barely old enough to shave. I thought he was the guy who comes out first to check the microphone. You could hear people saying “He's just a kid!”
Jake began to speak, and with that the magic began. He thanked HANMI and its chairwoman, Lynn Knight, for the invitation to come to Saipan; he spoke of his experience with the children's ukulele band earlier that day; he spoke with genuine warmth and intensity and you could feel that even if the music were to end up being crummy, here was someone who loved what he was doing. He remembered everyone's name.
Jake pulled up a chair and began to perform. His fingers created such rich sounds that you imagined they were coming from a full orchestra, not a little four-string instrument that until that night the uninitiated considered a sort of small toy guitar. And for the next 90 minutes, we were mesmerized. But I believe that it was not just because of his amazing technique. I think that the most moving part of the experience was being witness to a person doing what he was created to do. We watched a young man fulfilling his destiny. He was not just a great performer. Watching him play was like watching creation. The music flowed through his every expression. And he connected with heart and soul to those around him. He expressed such pure enjoyment at each new change in the music, as if he were being taken by surprise by the sounds emerging from the instrument. You got the feeling that he was the instrument, and that some force was playing him. It was hard to imagine someone doing anything in the world any better, or enjoying it any more. It was moving to watch.
I contemplated how fortunate one must be to have found one's destiny. I thought about my own four children and my hope that they might discover their gifts in the same way, and uncover their talents so that their lives contribute to the maximum extent to humanity. I also began to wonder how our educational system might change if it were focused on one task above all others-helping each child discover their unique destiny. The experience gave me cause to pause and wonder if I were fulfilling my own destiny. I thought of the words of Sweet Honey in the Rock:
“My God calls to me in the morning dew.
The power of the universe knows my name.
He gave me a song to sing and set me on my way.
I raise my voice for justice. I believe.”
May we all find our song, and sing it boldly. Thank you, Jake, for letting us watch.
(David Khorram, MD is a board certified ophthalmologist, and director of Marianas Eye Institute. Questions and comments are welcome. Call 235-9090 or email email@example.com. Copyright © 2005 David Khorram.)
I don't have ticket or venue information yet, but the concert will be on Thursday, March 27. Mark your calendars!
The concert is going to be a Beautify CNMI and HANMI fundraiser. We will also celebrate the two year anniversary of Beautify CNMI that night. We'll thank our many sponsors and participants and hand out this year's Beautify CNMI Champion and Steward awards.
The handful of people we've told so far are stoked for the chance to see Jake perform. It is going to be a great night. Like I said, mark your calendars!