Ok Matt, how can we make this story about you? Oh, I got it!
In high school, I volunteered at a soup kitchen (good guy alert!) where I would help myself feel better about all the sinful things I did as a rambunctious adolescent. Being the naive, spoiled private school child I was, I went in under the pretense that every homeless dude I met would be dumb, lazy, smelly, and rude.
I was wrong.
While there were certainly some who fit that mold, most were surprisingly courteous, thoughtful and well-spoken. What I learned from the other volunteers was that many of them were schizophrenic. To give you a spot on definition of schizophrenia, I asked Google.
Schizophrenia is a long-term mental disorder of a type involving a breakdown in the relation between thought, emotion, and behavior, leading to faulty perception, inappropriate actions and feelings, withdrawal from reality and personal relationships into fantasy and delusion, and a sense of mental fragmentation.
When hearing some of their stories, I learned that many lived a virtuous, productive life before being overcome by the tormenting disease. There have been multiple studies done on schizophrenia that support the possible link between the disease and genius.
Take for example 1994 Nobel Prize mathematician John Nash. The dude was struck by schizophrenia when he was 30 years old and is highly considered to be one of the world’s best mathematicians. He once asked a professor at Carnegie Mellon University to write him a recommendation and the professor wrote only five words: “This man is a Genius.”
So to see this 51-year-old homeless widower in Florida named David Gould absolutely kill it on an instrument typically played by the rich is nothing short of awesome.
And to learn that a Sarasota, Florida resident donated him a clarinet after witnessing his prodigal musical talents adds to the plot.
Upon receiving the gift, News 8 Florida reports Gould’s reaction:
“You got to be kidding me. A Bundy? Great. I’m definitely going to have to practice. I used to play this thing. I played it in the Marine Corps band. They don’t take slouches,” he said.
After a few tries Gould was able to play a few songs on his new clarinet. “Oh yeah, it feels great in my hands, like a comfortable old lover,” he said, laughing. “I would say thank you very much and he won’t regret it.”
Play on, playa. Play on.