The Best Song Ever
I knew from the beginning that this story was going to be complicated. It isn’t easy to define Cassidy Larkin. She is so many things. Where do you start? Where do you end? We were supposed to discuss her work, her professional goals and dreams but five minutes into our conversation I found myself talking to Cassidy mostly about music. In fact, everything else somehow became tangential. We reminisced about live shows, analyzed our favorite genres, shared rock and pop fables and even tried to identify the perfect song lyric. Now, that one was a rabbit hole and we had to stop after going down an endless list of timeless lines from Leonard Cohen, through John Lennon to Taylor Swift.
“You know what’s interesting”, smiled Cassidy, “As much as I love poetry, sometimes the music becomes the lyric. I love classical music too and I can feel the poetry shine through the notes without any words.”
What a profound point! Cassidy was saying that music is poetry without words and poetry is music without notes! I wrote her quote down not just because I needed it for this story but because I needed it for myself – period.
“You asked me about my favorite genre, but I really don’t have one”, continued Cassidy, “I just keep an open mind and listen to all the music that feels real and honest. I like everything: classic rock, jazz, country, hip-hop, punk, pop music, everything. I don’t play an instrument, but I have a good pitch and I memorize lyrics instantly. So, I sing-along constantly – in the car, at home, at parties and concerts. Basically, I’m always singing, and people can tell that music influences almost everything I do in life.”
I remember well the first time I met Cassidy. How could I forget? It was at a summer event at Midnight Farm that involved all kinds of water games. There were inflatable swimming pools, slip n slides, water balloons, etc. It was impossible not to notice her –armed with endless energy, infectious laugh and a super-soaker, Cassidy was the life of the party. All the men and women of GoodLife gravitated around her even if it meant getting targeted by her turbo powered water gun. If you’ve been to one of these epic events at Midnight Farm you know that out there anything goes. Before long someone managed to sneak up on Cassidy and dunk her into a large inflatable pool. I gasped as for a moment she became fully submerged into the cold water: Is she going to get upset? How unhappy would she be with the prospect of driving two hours back to Iola while soaking wet? A second later Cassidy emerged from the pool completely drenched and doubled over with laughter.
So yes, I remember the first time I met Cassidy. In fact, I have a feeling most people do.
Before joining GoodLife in Southeast Kansas two years ago, she lived in Houston, TX where her brother Logan works in NASA Mission Control.
“I am a single mother with a very young daughter, and it was good for her to have a great male role model close by.”
As a CNA and a licensed phlebotomist, Cassidy has been employed in various jobs in the health industry and nursing homes. When she started at GoodLife, she spent a lot of hours as a direct service professional in several homes.
“This is the most meaningful and rewarding job I’ve ever had”, claims Cassidy, “This work requires two things – heart and patience. Some people work to create products and that is extremely valuable, of course. As DSP’s we literally create happiness. I never ever dread coming to work. Since I am a people person I easily bond with the men and women we serve. As you get to know them and respect them, they become your family. And when that happens, you’ll quickly discover how much you care for them and how that care naturally translates into happiness. Theirs and yours. What could be more meaningful?”
Cassidy says that this job has enriched her in many ways, and it has also allowed her to do all those other things she is interested in. What are those things? Glad you asked but it might be easier to list the things she is not interested in. “Life is too short”, laughs Cassidy, “So I try to embrace all of it.”
And so, she does: she embraces art galleries, the impressionists, the great outdoors, bike rides with friends, traveling, exploring, writing, running. Currently, she is even preparing for a 5K race in Humboldt.
“I like that hypnotic moment”, says Cassidy, “When you get in perfect running rhythm, your movement becomes effortless and you’re suddenly alone – just you, your route and your thoughts.”
One can’t talk about Cassidy without mentioning her love for animals. She likes to be in their presence and often spends hours at the zoo. “I feel connected to them, and I especially love the elephants. Despite their size they are so gentle, caring and intelligent.”
A few months ago, Cassidy traveled to a wolf sanctuary and immediately befriended several of the large animals: “This massive wolf came straight to me. He looked fearsome but there was no tension – just instant understanding between us. Animals are smart and special, and they can sense when a human has good intentions.”
Cassidy herself has a dog (Eli), a cat (George), a goldfish (Fry), and a snail (Gary).
Her love of music has taken her on many trips to live venues. “Recently, I went to Missouri to see one of my favorite bands – “1975”, remembers Cassidy, “I soaked it all in. I don’t understand the people who watch the shows through their smartphones. I’d rather be in the mosh pit, and completely surrender to the moment. That’s also the way I live. I don’t waste anything and try to enjoy every good moment. My job reflects this. Both as a DSP and in Day Services. It is never monotonous, and it means something to me. I try to live less out of habit and more out of intent and frankly this is what I want for the men and women at GoodLife too. They might have not had a lot of control in the past, so I try to give them new experiences, new places, new skills. I give them as much as I can so they can live more intentionally. Yes, we do have a lot of one-on-one time to serve them better and empower them but ultimately this is a team effort. My co-workers are priceless and that’s another benefit of this job – forging great friendships for life. In many of my previous jobs I wasn’t respected and valued. I get this at GoodLife and that’s the most precious currency.”
“You know”, continues Cassidy and her entire face suddenly lights up, “My daughter is now four years old, and I can see every day how my work has made me a better parent. I do all these things but truly, I have sole parental custody and my number one priority is to be the best mother I can be. I learn from the men and women at GoodLife. I learn how to be patient. I learn how to be kind. I learn how to be accepting. Giving this to my child is priceless.”
I could talk to Cassidy for days. Anyone could. She is just so eclectic, social, interesting, curious, and kind. But see, that’s the problem. That’s what makes her story so complicated. It isn’t easy to define Cassidy Larkin. She is so many things. Where do you start? Where do you end?
“Before you go, you should see her in her princess outfit”, says Cassidy, “Four years old but already sooo much personality. Here look at this picture.” I look at the photograph: mother and impossibly adorable daughter holding hands wearing matching dresses. It feels as if no force in the universe can separate them.
“My goodness. She is truly beautiful! What is her name?”, I ask
“Lyric. Her name is Lyric”, answers Cassidy with a smile.
Of course, it is. And everything finally makes perfect sense. It was always the music. It was never complicated. Cassidy Larkin’s entire story feels like music. And what a wonderful song it is! A song that now has found its perfect Lyric.