I have been honored by The Federated Italo-Americans of Southern California and The Consul General of Italy by having been asked to be the headliner of their once in a lifetime gala in celebration of The 150th Anniversary of The Unification of Italy this Friday night. I accepted this honor to sing not only for them, and their guests, but I accepted on behalf of my parents who came to this great Country from Italy, but for my ancestors who fought, sacrificed and for those who died for what they believed was right at the time for them and for their descendants.
I have been racking my brain and doing research as to what would be the best program, songs to sing and stories to tell that would capture the ears, the minds, the imagination and the hearts of those who will be there and for the energy I put out into the world from my being there and my being present.
That being said, I was proud today as I came up with songs and stories that would do just what I intended and would honor and commemorate beautiful, in my opinion, what the event is all about. In my putting the program together, I remembered some stories that my Father had related to me as I was growing up about Italy, about the Unification, about Italy’s Royalty during that time, about Garibaldi, a key player in the Unification, etc.
But for some of the stories, I had forgotten some of the details. And though I will probably not be going into too much detail in the program, I thought it was important to at least be reminded of them and see if there is a thread that I could be missing that would be pertinent and relevant and appropriate to mention. My first thought was that a few years back, I would have just picked up the phone and called my Papa, my Father, and asked him. But he has been long gone now and that would not be possible.
My second thought, which followed immediately afterwards was to Google the information, which was an “of course,” since all the information would be there, in more detail than I could ever want or need, and it would be the most “accurate,” and efficient way to get the information I “needed.” But as I turned to my computer, the thought occurred to me that Google might not be the best source at this moment. It is a source that I turn to dozens of times a day and have taken it for granted they it is there and it will always be there.
The thought occurred to me that I used to always take my Father for granted and thought that he would always be there. And then one day, he no longer was, at least, not in the way I wish he still were. But it didn’t worry me that some day Google might not be there, what worried me, is that I was turning to Google, while completely ignoring something that might not always be there, people. I also realized that I would turn to a computer for help before I would turn to a person. Why? What have I disconnected from?
In a way, the computer might be more accurate than any one given person’s memory, even though the information on the computer does come from a person. But on the other hand, this was a project that I did not need the utmost in accuracy. This was a project in which I wanted to touch PEOPLE, and here I was turning to a computer to help me do that. There is nothing wrong with that, on the contrary, computer help me touch people all the time, and I am touched by people all over the world by way of computers everyday, all day in fact.
But here was a situation where I could have used a person and I didn’t think of it. So, with my Google search already completed and my “answers” directly in front of me on my screen, I turned away from my computer and made a phone call. I happened to have the number of, of all things, an opera critic, and one of my biggest critics, but a man who is an elder in the Community, an Italian born in Italy, and someone who did like and respect me and always told me so at every event where he heard me sing. I hardly ever see this man because I have not been involved in the Italian Community much since embarking upon LIFEChanges, but I knew this, I knew this man would be happy to hear from me, that he would be honored by my calling him for the information, that he would have the information, that I would connect with a human being, that I would get from my human interaction exactly what I needed to know for the job I wanted to do this Friday.
And so I called, Luigi Smaldino. He was so happy to hear from me and it put a big smile on my face. I proceeded to tell him why I was calling and to tell him what songs I was planning on singing, songs that I had never sung before and I was learning just for this occasion. What happened next? I got a “Wow,” and then a pause, and then another “Wow,” followed by, “What could be better?” I was beaming inside. After all, I wasn’t doing this to please me, I was doing this to please him and all the people gathered there. Luigi came from Italy, though he didn’t live through the Unification, of course, he lived the life, experience and emotions that were felt of the aftermath of that historic event.
He represented to me the person that I wanted to touch. And touch I did, and in touching him, I was touched. I proceeded to run the stories that I was planning on sharing by him and he laughed at some and added more color to others, he corrected a couple and then gave me a few more to ponder. And then, just as I was ready to thank him and hang up, this man said to me something that Google nor my computer ever has, and gave me the reward of a decision well made. This man said, “I am looking forward to seeing you and hearing you on Friday, and I will never forget that night you sang so beautifully and you touched me so deeply.”
I touched a human being today, and he touched me back!
Gratitude beyond these words…