by Jesse Solomon

One of the biggest misconceptions in art is that skill equates to talent. This could not be further from the truth. Talent is not something one can earn. Talent is not something one can work toward. Talent, at its very essence, is built by stacking the bricks of experience into a tunnel of expression when all you want to do is build a wall of protection.

We have all seen videos on the internet of people playing concertos with extreme accuracy. To me, this is akin to teaching a dog a trick. Thea is the perfect example of the opposite of this. There is no one who has stepped foot in this facility that radiates more raw talent. As an artist myself, I am incredibly jealous. With no formal training, no music classes, or expert guidance, Thea has somehow managed to turn a lifetime of pain into beautiful melodies that instantly ring truth into the ears of anyone who hears them.

I remember the first time I heard one of her songs. We were both early in our sobriety and didn’t know each other at all. I was filled with anxiety when I first arrived at Beit T’Shuvah, so I basically lived on the smoking patio. The moment she struck her first chord and belted out her first words, with her uniquely angelic soprano, I was sucked in. It wasn’t until after that, I realized I had forgotten to light my cigarette. That right there may have been the first time in years that without the help of drugs, my mind and body were calm and still. I will never be able to thank her enough for that.

Emotion is the messiest thing on the planet. For most of us, talking to a therapist or a group is the best way to work through our emotions. For others, the most natural way to exert emotion is through art. All of us have seen Thea singing and playing guitar during services. That means all of us have had a part in her recovery just as much as she has been a part of ours.

In one of her songs, “Whispers in the Dark,” Thea sings, “tears were pouring from my pen.” This is the perfect example of what makes music such an important part of her recovery. Now, as a staff member in the Music Department, she is passing on that knowledge to other residents. Thea has been working incredibly hard to organize the Very Virtual Talent Show. She has encouraged many residents to drift out of their circle of comfort and stand in the spotlight presenting their talents. Just like her, they have discovered a wonderful new way to express themselves.

If Thea has taught us anything, it is to not be shy of whatever talent is ours and to never give up. Some of us play sports, some of us dance, Thea makes music. From playing in front of a 7/11 for change to playing in front of a packed congregation for Friday night services, Thea’s talent knows no end. If you have had the pleasure of hearing her play, you will agree that her future is bright. She sees people with more technical skill than her and instead of using that as an excuse to give up, it pushes her to practice harder. Anyone can learn how to play guitar. Anyone can learn to sing. Thea encapsulates the essence of pure untailored talent. She is the exact reason why music is an art and not a science… and she is not alone.

Tune into the Very Virtual Talent Show to find out who else in this community will move you with their talents!