Listen Here Busker!
It’s Monday again and like most Mondays, it was painfully brutal pulling myself out of bed this morning knowing there’s a new work week upon me. I’m sorry, but just when you get used to the weekend, poof it’s gone. Anyway, yesterday, my fiancé and I took a walk downtown, something we hadn’t done in a while. There was no rhyme or reason for it, we just wanted something to do on a lazy Sunday afternoon and a stroll seemed like a great idea. As we made our way down the street, we began to see a bunch of people start to gather all in this one area. Turns out we strolled our way toward the annual Busker’s Festival, it had been going on all weekend and yesterday was the last day. Being that we were in the right place at the right time, and given that a show was just about to start, we decided to get a little closer to the action and watch a performance.
The fifteen minute segment we happened upon turned out to be quite the spectacle. It was a guy riding a unicycle and playing the bagpipes while at the same time juggling knives. Not for the faint of heart. His name is Kilted Colin and here’s a link to a YouTube video I found. During his act, he mentioned that he has been busking and doing this routine for ten years now, and I certainly believed him. What he was pulling off wasn’t something you could just learn overnight or in a couple of weeks for that matter. No, these tricks you could tell required a lot of skill, athleticism, and discipline, all in which this guy was quite fluent. Midway through, I took a look around at the faces in the audience. The same audience that had turned from a small group of looky-loos to a huge mob of bewildered spectators that were hanging on his every word and in awe of each maneuver he made. He sure knew how to work the crowd too, testament to his trade, not only was his stunts breathtaking, he was also really funny which helped keep his audience engaged the whole time. It was a job well done indeed, and it left us both happy that we took the time from our walk to catch in his little show. After his final stunt, we left a small donation and went on our way in search of warmth and coffee.
There was one thing that stuck with me for the rest of the evening and also turns out to be the idea behind this entry. It was something he had said during the performance. He mentioned that this is his job, this is what he does full time to put food on his table. I opened this post with how hard it was for me to get out of bed this morning, to get myself up and ready for my job at one of the best if not, the best law firms in Atlantic Canada. So, how does this guy feels when he wakes up every morning knowing that he has to juggle knives to earn an income? How does he find the drive? The drive to drag his ass the country abroad regurgitating the same old script, and redoing the same old tricks perfectly, as if they were the first time he’s ever pulled them off. No sick days, no vacation, and no job security. Nope, he’s completely in charge of his own destiny and from what I can tell, and according to what he told everybody in attendance, he loves every minute of it. Good for him. You have to respect somebody who has taken it upon themselves to use what raw tools they have and talents they were blessed with to make their own living. I wish him well and those like him.
Then, another perspective warms over me as we moved along in search of the nearest downtown cafe. As we walked away chatting about what we had just seen, we were greeted on what felt like ten different occasions, by people begging for money. Street people who spend their days nestled in doorways with cardboard signs asking each and every passerby for a dollar or two. They have nothing in exchange, no show, no tricks, no service of any kind. No, all they have is a little hope for sympathy and empathy from their fellow man or woman, enough so, that it makes you reach in your pocket for whatever can be spared. In that very moment I was torn, I had just watched a show with a gentleman who is essentially doing the same thing in asking for a little generosity. Why did I feel so differently about who I gave my money to? Why did I feel so inclined to give to the busker but not so much the buster?
I was ashamed that I even had that internal dialog to be honest, sometimes we judge before we have the chance to think about it. Sometimes we have those knee jerk reactions without taking the time to really think about who it impacts. I was guilty of having that reaction and I don’t feel too good about it either. From the buskers to the beggars, we are all human beings and sometimes we need help. I don’t know any of these people, I don’t know their stories or what lead them to a life on the street and really, it shouldn’t matter. What I should be is more understanding and look at people with a more open heart. I’m ultimately grateful that I have what I have and at the end of the day, if I have a little something to give, I should just simply do that…give. All of us human beings shouldn’t need anything in return to help someone out. There’s no better feeling knowing that you paid it forward and was able to turn someone’s day around, even if in the most modest sense. There may come a day where we too may look to a stranger for support and when we do, it’s nice to know that all they are expecting in return is just simply a smile.