I do not watch America’s Got Talent, although I am familiar with the format and have a soft spot for Simon Cowell from American Idol’s early days. But a video came up in my Instagram feed as a must watch – and I clicked.
Onto my screen popped a slight woman with short hair and a spritely look about her: Nightbirde, she called herself. She would sing an original piece (not always a good sign) titled “It’s OK.” I’m getting drawn in.
Howie Mandel asked questions, and Nightbirde explains she had not worked for a few years and has been battling cancer. When pressed, she admitted she had not yet won the battle; cancer still sat in her lungs, spine, and liver. (Through clever editing, we later learn Nightbirde has only a 2% chance of survival. Did the judges already know this? I don’t really care.)
As I listened to Nightbirde speak and then sing, I was struck by her words. When Howie balked at her cancer revelation, commenting, “So you’re not okay,” Nightbirde smiled, begrudgingly admitting, “Well, no, not completely.”
She didn’t miss a beat, however, taking the next moment to state, “It’s important that everyone knows I’m so much more than the bad things that happen to me.” Okay – now I’m in. I’ll stick around for the song.
Nightbirde sings. A raspy and wispy voice that seems so popular right now. It’s as if Sinead O’Connor and Ingrid Michaelson had a baby. Both delicate and guttural. “It’s ok,” she sings. “If you’re lost, we’re all a little lost, and it’s alright.”
The judges stand. Powerful. Heartfelt. Amazing. Authentic. Stunning. Commending her for “almost casually telling us what [she’s] going through.”
Nightbirde stands tall, accepting the accolades. And then she says, “You can’t wait until life isn’t hard anymore before you decide to be happy.”
Simon Cowell quivers. So do I.
Nightbirde’s words and lyrics remind me why people come to coaching. Yes. Really.
Busy, harried, frustrated, stuck, and ready for something more in their lives. Willing to take a risk, even though it takes time. Daring to vulnerably say: I am not happy. I am stuck. I want something more. They recognize, like Nightbirde, they are more than any of the bad things that have happened to them. They decide they will not wait until life isn’t hard to get themselves some happiness.
I have since rewatched the clip several times. It’s okay. We all get a little lost sometimes. And it’s alright. Don’t believe me? Check for yourself: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZJvBfoHDk0.