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Dear Trumpet Player in Grand Central Station, NYC

I've been working in my new job for 7 days now, meaning for 7 days, I have found myself taking the shuttle from Times Square to Grand Central in the morning and vice versa in the evening. If you've ever been in the NYC subways, you'll know that there is always someone playing music for tips - so much so that you almost can entirely block it out in a way.

On Monday and Tuesday morning as I stepped off the train into Grand Central, I half-heard a trumpet. On Monday and Tuesday evening, I heard it again. By Wednesday, I realized the young man playing trumpet by the shuttle stop might be a regular. But then again, it was only my third day on the job. I was the new kid on the block.

But then he wasn't there on Thursday.

And I noticed. And I think a lot of my co-commuters noticed as well. Our welcome to Grand Central wasn't jazz, it was an intercom telling us to let the passengers off the train first. Not nearly as calming.

And then I got to thinking about how our presence is noted. Every morning hundreds of people walk past the young man with the trumpet. Every evening, hundreds of the same people hurry past him again. Some may pause to listen, or even throw in a few dollars but most listeners (I'm guilty as well) simply shuffle past, intent on getting to their next destination.

And does he feel ignored? To sit there all morning and evening and play for the handful of people who recognize him. Does he know that when he was gone he was missed?

It's been a really overwhelming and stressful few weeks on my end - so much so that I've been majorly neglecting a lot of Smile Project duties. But I figured it was fine. Nobody would notice anyway, right?

And then, I stepped off the train today to hear my favorite hymn echoing through the underground. Dear trumpet boy in Grand Central Station: Thank you.

You bring light into this world whether people stop to say thank you or not. I was almost at the end of the tunnel when I passed an older woman with tears in her eyes, mumble-singing the words as we stepped out of earshot.

And that. That's what's really wonderful about human beings and our ability to impact others.

For the love of all that is pure and beautiful in the world, use your talents.

Do that thing that you do. Make other people smile and laugh and cry and feel things and even if nobody ever thanks you for it you have to keep doing it. Because people might not give you a tip or a head nod or tell you that you're doing good. But they'll notice when you're gone. Just because you aren't getting the credit you deserve doesn't mean you aren't bright as gold.

Love always,

Liz

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