In 2 months, I’ll be at a bookstore in Jacksonville in the hopes of getting people to buy copies of my new book, A Group of Critters. From what I understand, I’ll just be set up on the sidewalk outside instead of being at a table inside with a pen and a waiting smile. So I’ll also be playing some songs on my guitar and offering pay-what-you-want-poetry.
I’ve never embraced the life of a busker for a number of reasons. For starters, playing songs for passers by who don’t really want to listen is more frustrating for me than playing for people having conversations in bars. Some would say that I’m too much of a Leo to enjoy not being listened to.
Secondly, the few times that I have stood out on some public sidewalk, I didn’t make any money. So not only do I have to feel the shame of watching people cross the street to avoid walking by me, but also of not meriting even pocket change. The last time I busked in Asheville, the guy just sitting with his hat in his hand did a hell of a lot better than me after an hour or so actually playing.
Thirdly, just playing music isn’t all that I am. To be honest, I’m not a great musician, and I don’t practice nearly as much as true professionals do. But now, I also leave the option open to offer some poetry or educational entertainment in the form of a coloring book. So I think I’m pretty content to just show up to a place and be who I am, in the hopes that someone actually wants me to be there.
Often, when I meet someone for the first time, whether it’s at some sort of networking event or out in the great wide open, when someone asks me what I do, the answer can be a puzzlement. To some, I have said, “Whatever I want,” while for others I have been more service-oriented by asking, “What do you need?” Having spent some time branding myself as a “renaissance man” and spending even more time opening myself up to doing stuff and learning things, there are quite a few things I’m able to do, and able to do well.
There are not a lot of things that I’d like to do for 40 hours a week, but there are a lot of things I like to do that can serve and support those who do want to do a certain thing for that much time. I feel a bit blessed that I live in a world that is embracing the gig economy to move beyond the limited systems of specialization and the slavery of industrialism that have come before. While I know that we still have to allow ourselves to become more to make it sustainable, I am glad that many people are realizing that we are all more than just a primary job we perform.
After sharing the essay I wrote about remembering who I am, the first comment was from a woman who said she remembered me as a poet. But others may remember me as an actor, author, songwriter, substitute teacher, tour guide, activist, or weirdo, among other things. I am grateful that I can always find the joy of small successes in all of those things.
In the new economy, I am grateful that people are remembering to find value in life beyond merely the money they make, but in the fabric of their being weaved with the richness of full experience. I am very glad to have another book to share with people in the hopes that it gives them a different perspective of life, and I’m truly grateful that it’s not something I have to do all of the time. For time calls for more than just one thing.