Simple Beauty

 

Day in, day out, up at 5:30am again, out the door at 6:00 to move my car – no too many people out on a post-rain morning like this but the crackheads and me. I start driving and on the way remember that I still have almost $5.00 in my paypal account – a fortune these days, but a fortune that goes fast…

Groggy in this hellish yet beautiful hour, but in a special kind of mood; life is turning around. I not only feel it, but it’s there, in front of me, smiling and calling and just looking for my answer.

YES.

Always yes.

Things are coming my way… the way they should and do when I do something as simple as switch my heart around and believe, *know* that they will turn around. I think the magick is in far past just believing, as that always leaves room for doubt. It’s the feeling of knowing that makes all the difference, and simply taking action. Simple.

Not easy.

This past Thursday I stopped by the Vau de Vire rehearsal at Cell Space, to say hello to good friends, and to get out of my damned apartment which, after I move my car, wait for the time I need to and return, has become something of a glorified jail cell, one that locks from the inside. The struggle to leave is immense, the reasons, few – but on that day, that Thursday past, I made it out – and that’s all that needed to happen.

I take a seat for a few minutes; watch Shannon work on choreography with all of the insanely beautiful & talented Vau de Vire folk as much as I could (it’s a love/hate relationship – I love them for their stretchy, bendy, strong and insanely sexy ways – and hate them for the same out of utter envy.) and then see Mike across the floor, taking notes. I give Mike a hug, (Gods, that felt good – so long since I’ve felt the warmth of touch) the smile on my face in seeing him, feeling an old friends arms around me stretch the muscles that I so seldom have use for these days, save for the rare occasion in front of the mirror where I try to remember what it feels like when it’s genuine, coming from my heart instead of forced to my lips as an exercise…

He says that he and Shannon have been talking – want to know if I’m up for performing with them at Symbiosis as a Human Statue. I try to contain my joy, try to maintain *some* control but realize that it’s an exercise in futility and act like a little girl who actually *did* get a pony for her birthday. Without thinking of logistics I readily accept, already feeling like I’m on my way home again – the home where the heart is, not the walls behind which I pretend to live. The home where when I walk in there are smiles to greet me instead of a room barren of life, of warmth, of welcome.

I have no idea how I’ll make it to Symbiosis, a three day festival a few hundred miles south, but I’m sure I can figure out something… I need to. I’m certain that I can get a ride, but I have no tent, sleeping bag, or anything that a proper camper should have – it was all given away or sold long ago when I got my first running motorhome. I could take my motorhome, but how would I afford fuel and that one small part I need for the carburetor? Answers with more questions are all that I possess. Still, I have to make it – more for my heart and spirit than anything else. All I can do is trust. All I can do is *know* that somehow, some way, it will work out.

Two days later I get an email from someone named Bascom. Seems that he & his girlfriend are looking for a third to busk with. Someone taller, someone with a voice, someone seasoned on the streets who doesn’t have the encumbrance of trying to gather a crowd & work a pitch with razor blades hidden in his cheeks. It will be a far cry from a human statue, but it’s back to what I love – what I need; the smiles of strangers & passerby, a special gift that I know how to give them – reaching out of the common sights, the magick of wonder, and, even if just for a moment, the feeling that they are someone special, someone outside of the crowd. Even in stillness, even in silence I could do this, give them a gift of my energy, that they would hopefully carry in their hearts instead of their minds, that could just possibly bring splendor to a commonplace day, beauty to the mundane, remind them how to *see* the majesty of this world, instead of only looking at it through jaded eyes…

 

I drove towards the Mission for the sole reason that my car was already pointing that way, and to celebrate recent events decided to buy a vanilla latte from Peet’s Coffee with part of my final five dollars – one of the few coffee drinks that I’ll spurge on, one that I haven’t had in months. On my way inside of Peet’s I notice a homeless man sitting in front of Safeway, wet, cold, in between two bags that look like they weigh a ton dry. I get my latte, then thinking of how even something small can make all the difference in the world, with my last two dollars I buy a regular coffee, fill my pocket with some sugar packs and a cup with some half & half, and put a cardboard cup thing on mine so I don’t mix them up. I walk outside into the wind & wet & deliver the cup of hot coffee to him along with the sugar & cream.

His smile and gratitude was worth far, far more than that last two dollars.

Getting back to the warmth of my car, I notice that I had somehow, somewhat impossibly, mixed the cups up and that he ended up with my treasured vanilla latte. I look out my window, see him cupping it with both hands, taking gentle sips, the absolute pleasure on his face… and share a chuckle with the Universe.

After all, it’s simple – who am I to argue with what is truly meant to be?

 

Street Solidarity & the sweetness of Sugar

Of all days to not bring my camera…

Saturday – it was another hot, humid day in New Orleans. I got down to Jackson Square about 3:30, then checked to see if the prime pitch was open, directly across Decatur Street from Cafe’ du Monde, and the prime tourist location for busking in The Quarter. I’ve always done well statuing there.
The pitch was being used, but the guy using it told me he had to split at 4 – so I waited, and when it was time, set up, got up on my box, and began the work day.
It was the usual crowd, tourists, families, groups of girls and boys, drunken fools who can’t seem to think of anything else to say except the typical “I’ll bet you he’d move if I grabbed his box/grabbed his crotch/tickled him – har har har…”
It’s an incredibly peaceful job at times, but also one that you need to be on guard pretty much all the time. I recently described statuing to a friend as “much more of a discipline than a talent”. It’s a strange combination of ignoring everything, but at the same time being accutely aware of everything that’s going on around me. It’s the people that make it so rewarding – the children whose faces completely light up in amazement as I offer them a wink and subtle smile as their parents look away, as if letting them in on a secret that’s just for us; it’s the older people who walk by and quietly give me beautiful compliments, even – and perhaps the most appreciated, the occasional gutter punk who digs deep in his/her unwashed pocket to give me what change they can offer. I will never cease to be amazed and humbled by that…
But it’s also the *other* people that sometimes I can’t help but slowly look down at, raise a dissaproving eyebrow, and solemly, silently, shake my head in pity. Fortunately, this frequently seems to get approval from their friends.
Most commonly I have found it to be, predictably, the people with drinks in hand, drunk and wandering around, who can’t help but fuck with the statue a bit – but they’re usually harmless, and after the initial foolishness switch over to words of appreciation, then they’re off to the next bar.
That’s always nice – both the switch, and the leaving.
The worst I have encountered, however, are the packs of whatever-teen year olds. Some of these kids just mess around harmlessly, saying silly things, searching for the approval of their friends, having fun – but only a couple of weeks ago I came the closest I have ever been to putting my cane to use before looking at the two most offending of this pack of about 15 and saying “Little boy, little girl – get the fuck away from me, now.” They had been standing there for about twenty minutes, and as much as I have dealt with doing this, as much as I can tolerate – or “stand for”, (pun intended) as the case may be, at that point I was pushed to my limit. Thankfully, they left shortly after.

That’s why this past Saturday, as I saw a pack of about eight or nine girls making their way directly towards me from Cafe’ du Monde, I was a bit aprehensive. When I heard one of the two in front say “Okay – you ready?” to the girl next to her as she was looking at me, I thought to myself “Oh, shit, this is it…” wondering how I could react, somehow, with grace to whatever they were about to do to me, or how I could prevent it altogether. I wasn’t coming up with anything. I had no idea what they had planned. I had no choice but to wait and see, as jumping off the box and asking them just what the *FUCK* they thought they were about to do just didn’t seem too graceful or appropriate just yet…

What happened next was truly amazing.
For those that don’t know, Cafe du Monde sells a french style pastry called a bignet (bin-yay)- a rectangular donut type thing with no hole – and completely covered in powdered sugar. Completely. More powdered sugar than you could ever have a use for in a simple order of three bignets, and inevitably there will be mountains of it left on the plate, long after the bignets are gone.

When the two leading girls were about two and a half feet away – just at the very edge of the box people put money in for me, their hands simultaneously came up – and as I tried to asses just what the hell was going on, saw the powdered sugar streaming from them – and then, they did something I couldn’t have imagined – they smeared the powdered sugar all over their faces. First the two, then the rest of them, coming to stand beside me, making their faces as white as possible with the powdered sugar, and doing quite a good job of it.

In a glorious way, I had been beaten. I could not have felt more honored.

I laughed – laughed well, stepped down off my box and bowed deeply to them all, then handed one of the first two my cane, and set my hat on her head as I helped her get up on my box for the pictures.

Once the pictures had been taken, one of them asked me if they had made my day. “My DAY?” I said. “You have made my day, my week, my month, my year. This is hands down, the best experience I have ever had statuing – and thank you.”

For some reason, that seemed to suprise her – but then a huge smile of peaceful satisfaction for a job so *very* well done crossed her face, she giggled, I talked to the rest of them a bit and offered my thanks, and then, doing their best to wipe the powdered sugar off of their faces, they were off to their next adventure.

I stepped back up onto my box with a huge smile – then just a few seconds later, stepped back down and started to pack up.

It was getting slow and late, and besides – it couldn’t get any better than that.

I smiled for hours afterwords, and it’s a smile that I will carry inside for a long, long time. As the daily fools come by with their lack of imagination, with their rediculous words and comments, I will think of them, those wonderful little girls, and I just may occasionally look down at one of these people…
and subtly smile.