Look back to the days of your youth and try to remember what you wanted to be when you grew up. Perhaps you wanted to be a famous actor or major sports athlete? Maybe you wanted to be in a band and jump around stage like David Lee Roth. Whatever the dream, most of us slowly started to realize how unlikely or impractical our dreams were. We finished school and fell into our real-world jobs with our childhood dreams long forgotten – never thinking back on your once-upon-a-time destiny.  

Giving up that dream is the general rule of thumb – the expected rite of passage to cross over into the burdensome stage of life known as adulthood. Of course, with every rule there is always an exception. Wandering around the crown jewel of the Empire State, the stone, steel and glass metropolis of New York City, we came across an exception named James.

While seeking a temporary reprieve from the heat, we found ourselves exploring the Brookfield Place Mall – a beautiful testament to man’s desire to experience all the outdoors have to offer, while comfortably located in a climate controlled building. The massive foyer featured towering palm trees imported from savage mall-less tropical islands. We walked by the great palms – their manicured leaves blowing in in the cool circulated central air. Before exiting the urban oasis, we made our way passed a well-dressed man sweetly singing whatever melody popped into his head.

We couldn’t help by smile as we doubled back to chat with the man. He introduced himself as James the, “singing security guard.” It was hard not to talk to James. His smile was infectious and only bested by his great outlook on life. At the age of 36, James works multiple jobs to provide for his two sons. “Around here they call me the workaholic or the SSG (Singing Security Guard),” James explained. The fact that he was working a Sunday shift was evidence enough that every day was a work day for James.

“Does the singing help you get through the day?” Nate asked. James smiled and gently shook his head as he said, “I just like singing.” That much was obvious. James went on in tremendous detail about how he would produce an album if he had the chance. It didn’t take long to realize the childhood dream so many of us let go was still alive and well in James. “I’ve got friends that will sing on the streets and they make a good living doing that,” James said, “but they don’t have two boys to provide for like I do.”

It was true – the ability to take a risk, quit your steady paying job, and chase your dream is greatly decreased when you have a family to provide for. Beyond that, James, like many parents, wants to provide his sons with more opportunity than he had, just like his father did for him. James was the first of his family to be born in the United States after his father sacrificed everything, left Sierra Leon, and started a new, better life, for his family in America. Not unlike his father, James has found a way to chase his dream while still providing that life for his boys.

By picking up extra shifts on holidays, weekends, and nights James has set aside money to build his own recording studio in his home. “I just wish I could be an artist full time,” James said. This was our cue. Nate handed over a bill and said, “We want to help you get a little closer to your dream. Use this on your boys or whatever you see fit.” James was ecstatic as he asked, “Are you for real?” Shane quickly stepped in with some stickers and said, “This is what we do, James. We travel the country doing random acts of kindness and we thought you needed to be recognized for your hard work.”

Before setting on our way, Nate asked, “Could we get some video of you singing?” James, still smiling from ear to ear, said, “Oh absolutely! What do you want me to sing?” Not knowing which song to suggest, Nate simply said, “Just sing your favorite song.” James paused for a moment and then said, “I’ve got it,” as he broke into a soulful version of “A Song For You” by Donny Hathaway.

Let your dreams grow as you do.

#ProjectWildness #LiveWildness #GoodInspiresGood

To Michael S… You were very reluctant to make a request with your donation, but after chatting with you in the park about your desire to play music I can’t imagine a better way to use your donation. Because of you, James will be able to continue chasing his dream of being a musical artist. Thank you for all that you do and keep chasing your dreams!