My office currently overlooks the busy construction site of a new condominium development on a traffic-filled street in downtown Toronto. They are making great progress and seem to be adding a new floor each week to one of the two buildings under construction. This results in a short line up of cement trucks parked at the side of the street. The drivers sit in their cabs patiently waiting their turns as the mixers continue to turn in a slow and steady rhythm.
Earlier last week, as I walked on the sidewalk in the sunshine beside one of these trucks, I heard the most amazing sound. It was the sweet and beautiful sound of a flute. At first, I wondered if the driver had his radio turned to a classical station that was featuring this talented flutist. However, the music sounded like it was being played live. My curiosity was piqued and I was determined to uncover the source of the music. Being rather short in stature, I stood on my tippy-toes and discovered that my ears were not deceiving me. My eyes widened as I realized that this cement truck driver was making the most of his waiting time by practising his flute. This was a definitely a study in contrasts: the sweet sound of the flute standing out amidst the harsh noise of the city – blaring horns, belching trucks, screeching brakes and wailing sirens.
As I stood and listened to him skilfully play his flute, I realized that this man was happy and relaxed. He had built an oasis of quiet amidst the noise that surrounded him. While most people would see him as a cement truck driver, to me he was a teacher who had given me two amazing gifts. The first gift was the opportunity to listen to him play his flute. The second gift consisted of four valuable lessons. The first lesson was that if you find yourself with time on your hands, focus on something that you love to do. The second lesson was that if you take a creative break in a busy work day you can be more positive and productive. The third lesson was that if you listen carefully, you may be surprised by what you hear. The fourth and most important lesson was to remember to make sure that you do something that you love doing as part of your work. I now refer to this as “playing your flute”. Take a moment to ask yourself if the work you do allows you to “play your flute”. If not, then find a way to incorporate the things you love do and are good at in your work.
I want to express my deepest gratitude to the man who gave me so much on that sunny day last week. Perhaps I will get another opportunity to hear him play his flute. If not, he will be a continuous reminder that there are wonderful surprises waiting around every corner.