Video helps us hear a heart

(This post originally appeared on the Texas Baptists web site.)

Our eyes can deceive us. We look at someone and think we know what we see. But there is more to knowing that seeing.

A video that has gone viral shows a homeless man with beard and long, scraggly hair and hunger-thin arms. But there is more to the man than his homelessness. Donald “Boone” Gould plays piano beautifully, as captured in the video shot at an outdoor piano in Sarasota, Fla.

Now, we can know a bit more about the man in this video. WWSB, the ABC affiliate in Sarasota interviewed Gould.

The 51-year-old started with a clarinet as a kid, eventually playing the instrument for the U.S. Marine Corps. Shortly after his service, he returned to his home state of Michigan to study music education at Spring Arbor University with aspirations to one day teach music.

“I took music theory and ear training, and I had to learn how to play every instrument from the piccolo down to the tuba,” Gould says. “I can write parts like a handbook.”

Gould says he ran out of money three semesters short of graduation, and took up other jobs as he started a family.

Then his wife suddenly passed away in 1998.

“They sat me down, and they told me what had happened, that my wife had passed away. … and I just lost it man,” Gould says.

He began to follow a destructive path that included substance abuse, which in turn led to the loss of his then 3-year-old son to Social Services.

Every person, of course, has a story. Sometimes our eyes play tricks on us and lead us to believe we can know a person simply by looking at him or her.

We see a person driving a BMW and pulling into a three-car garage and think she is on top of the world, but if we could hear her heart we might learn a very different story. And the same is true for those in the opposite circumstances or even for those who just look pretty average.

The song Gould plays on the video is a cover of Styx’s rock classic, “Come Sail Away,” from the 1970s. It has a beautiful melody, which is part of why the video is so captivating. It’s a song Gould learned in earlier years of his life. He does not sing the lyrics, but you wonder if he hears them in his head as he plays.

I’m sailing away, set an open course for the virgin sea
I’ve got to be free, free to face the life that’s ahead of me
On board, I’m the captain, so climb aboard
We’ll search for tomorrow on every shore
And I’ll try, oh Lord, I’ll try to carry on

Lord, help us to listen better to the people around us, to know them better and to love them more. We will try, oh Lord, we will try to carry on, but we need a better captain than our own selves; we need You.

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