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He knew where he was and why he was there, but what he didn’t know was who he was.
While fighting in the first World War, he was severely wounded and wound up in the hospital to recuperate, but the only problem was he had lost both his dog tags and memory. The hospital staff didn’t know who he was and he had no way to tell them who he was, because he had nothing to remind himself of who he was.
He was in a tough spot, but he found solace whenever a musician who would come by to sing and play popular songs on the piano. The music served as a welcome respite from the challenge he faced on his healing journey.
For this wounded soldier, though, the music served as more than just a distraction. It served as a reminder.
One day during his visit, the musician began to sing “My Melancholy Baby,” a popular song that everyone from that time knew and could sing along to.
The unknown soldier sat straight up in bed in shock and delight. He not only remembered the song but also who wrote it.
“That's my song!” he exclaimed.
The soldier was none other than Ernie Burnett, a composer who had achieved fame with his signature tune.
Hearing his song reminded Ernie of who he was, helping him to fully regain his memory.
Every Cloud Must Have a Silver Lining
It can be easy to forget who we are while responding to the demands of the world around us. This can be true whether we’re fighting a literal war or fighting the day-to-day battles of everyday life.
Whatever the challenges you face, an empowering practice is to bring your authentic self to every moment—remembering who you really are in all you do.
For Ernie Bernett, this meant sending his music out into the world, instead of diminishing himself and hiding his talent—and when it came back to him, the reflection was literal music to his ears, a reminder of who he really is.
When we show up to every moment as our authentic selves, we become empowered to face and overcome challenges without losing ourselves in the process.
As Ernie’s song suggests: “Every cloud must have a silver lining; wait until the sun shines through.”
What do you do to remind yourself of who you really are?
Furia, P. & Lasser, M, (2006). America's Songs: The stories behind the songs of Broadway, Hollywood, and Tin Pan Alley. Routledge.
Jonas Cain, M.Ed. is a storyteller, magician, musician, and facilitator of fascination on a mission to help you experience abiding joy.