In her latest Share Your Stories post, Holly Elissa Bruno reflects on what a Goola is and why we all need one. Join in conversation with Holly Elissa as you think about the importance of a Goola when it comes to second chances.
Going for Goola: Moving the Emotions and Dazzling the Mind
Sidney Bechet, jazz genius, walked the 1920’s streets of Paris in finger-popping, toe-tapping dignity, knowing unquestionably that he was seen, honored, and free. His charcoal skin was golden in France. There, Bechet could stride.
Sidney Bechet blew his horn like an angel, to the angels, with the angels, for the angels. And the people couldn’t get enough of the man.
No one has since found the sound of Sidney Bechet. The man was, as we all are meant to be, one of a kind.
He preceded even the great Satchmo, Louis Armstrong, in winning record contracts (1923). He performed with Duke Ellington and Josephine Baker; in London’s Royal Philharmonic Hall and Harlem’s Savoy Ballroom; and from Moscow to Berlin. “Sidney Bechet created a style which moved the emotions even as it dazzled the mind” extolls New York Times critic, Robert Parker.
As with all of us, life was not always smooth for Sidney Bechet. He could not always find his stride. Back in an America not yet ready for black men of genius, Bechet fell into hard times. He couldn’t land gigs. To survive, he took up the scissors and needles of a tailor, and performed only in the back of his shop.
In hard times, Sidney Bechet paced the scuffed floors of his Harlem apartment, armpits sweating in summer, fingers frozen in winter. He may have felt invisible, his genius in hiding, perhaps played out or dried up. Most of us know this feeling from time to time—when our specialness leaves us behind. When that happens, we need Goola.
Goola was Bechet’s rough buddy. Goola was a stocky, muscled, lumbering “come as you are” kind of guy. A peeing in the streets rough buddy. Fart without apology rough buddy. A no-nonsense pal. Maybe that’s why Goola and Bechet were tight as ticks.
When Sidney Bechet lifted his horn to search for giftedness through the keys, Goola would snore. When Sidney Bechet tried a new riff, or played what had worked in the past, Goola would roll over and fall back asleep.
But when Sidney Bechet poured his honeyed soul through that horn, and found that sweetest of spots, that sound only angels could create, Goola sat up, raised his thick neck to the sky, and sang out the throatiest of sounds, yelping and growling to the moon.
And that is how Sidney Bechet, in poverty, became rich again. When Goola, his rough buddy German shepherd pup wailed, Sidney knew he had struck the angels’ cord. “I’m goin for Goola” Bechet smiled, “Goin’ for Goola.”
Bechet’s gift was always there. Your gift is always there.
There is a place in each of us that is our one-of-a-kind, timeless and true essence. In that divine place our gift abides glowingly, even when hidden from us. Others may shovel dirt, dump their garbage, turn their backs or roll their eyes, or worse, not even see you.
Each negation jams up creativity.
That’s why I need me a Goola. You need your Goola. We all need a Goola. Goola is our second chance mate, the buddy who reminds us we are gifted. Goola, our earthy angel, shows up in many forms: A toddler’s giggle, an elder’s alert and aware glance, a friend’s clap on the back or warm hand on ours, or a lumbering slumbering pup like Goola.
Not all second chances can be uncovered alone. For those deep-throated second chances, the ones you may have forgotten are your birthright, get yourself a Goola.
Goola will know. Goola will raise a ruckus until you know too. Know that your gift is golden. Know that your voice is true. With Goola’s help, you will remember, your second chance is you.
On those colorless days, when you feel average and plain as a toad,
- Who can be or has been your Goola?
- Who will howl until you give it up and admit you are special and have something special to offer?
Remember this: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid” (Einstein).
BY LEAVING A COMMENT, I hereby give my permission to Redleaf Press to use my story and quote me (all names will be changed) in Holly Elissa Bruno’s upcoming book on second chances, including in all revised editions of the book, in all formats (including print and electronic) now known or developed in the future, in all languages and territories, and in any other subsidiary editions of the book, and in promotional materials published by Redleaf Press, as it sees fit.