“Faith is a Passionate Intuition”
Street performing is one of the most honest businesses in existence. Think of how many times you’ve gone & dropped $20 on a movie that sucked. How many times have you purchased a product that broke the same day. In street theater, the audience decides after the show what it’s worth. If you’ve chosen a career in street performing, you know that this fact can alternate between being the most rewarding thing in the world to the most disheartening thing in the world.
It is not an easy task, entertaining strangers that don’t know they wish to be entertained. At some point, you are guaranteed to have days in which you don’t make enough to cover bus fare. Not just hours. Days. Then again, you can make two days worth of 9-5 job earnings, in 20 minutes. And to boot, it’s unpredictable. Some days you can be out there for six hours, but all your earnings happened in 20 minutes, while you struggled the other five hours and forty minutes.
There will be days when not only do you fail to reach that ecstatic high of connecting with strangers, but they actually drag your spirit down; sometimes through indifference, sometimes through personal attacks, mocking you and your profession, until you regret ever attempting to entertain the public. You attempt to make them smile, to brighten their day, and all they return is insults and negativity. Some of them will go to great lengths to disrupt your performance, stealing the attention from those that do decide to stop to watch. Sometimes this can be a great opportunity to show your colors to the audience — few things earn the audience’s’ respect and admiration faster than a performer that confidently, comedically, and firmly wrests control of the situation away from an obnoxious spectator, saving himself and the audience from the annoying, arrogant drunk that wandered into the middle of a street theater performance.
It’s all what you make of it. In New Orleans, I saw a magician almost come to blows with a big stupid brute from Alabama, because the Southerner decided to be a jerk when the magician was already having one of his worse days in years. I’ve seen guys hit the self-destruct button on a show, dismissing a crowd by throwing props to the ground and saying “I’m sorry, I tried. I’m an entertainer, and frankly, you don’t seem entertained. I’m going home.”. I’ve seen shows where there’s a huge crowd having an absolutely unforgettable time, a lot of laughter and surprises, yet after the show one person comes up with a single dollar, which is respectfully refused by the performer., waving his hand and saying “It’s alright, I’m not homeless or anything”. It can be a heartbreaking occupation. That’s just tails though, only half the story.
There’s nothing like being handed money at the bus stop by an anonymous guy that had a wonderful time at a street show you did two months ago. There’s nothing like walking around the third day of a weekend-long festival and being recognized, complimented, and appreciated by strangers, getting gifted food from some vendor that saw the show while they were on break. True, it’s a shitty feeling making $20 in three hours of pouring your soul out. But it’s an indescribable feeling to make $100 a hour doing what you love. The highs are high, and the lows are low. Someone should have told you that before you got into this business.
I guess that’s half of why this blog’s here.
Over the summer in Seattle there have been ups and downs, but regardless, I’ve learned a lot. This last Sunday was another improvement on the week before, and my last show of the day (and of my stay) was the best I’d had in months. After a few weeks of stagnation, I couldn’t have imagined a better sendoff. What I’m getting at is that persevering in spite of the setbacks requires a little faith. It helps to acknowledge that there are going to be bad times and good times, and neither will last long. Believe you know what you believe, for it determines the building blocks of your reality.
Tomorrow I depart for a 4,000 mile journey. I’ve delayed leaving for two days already, doing my best to cover all my bases. I’m as excited as I am anxious. In the two months I’ve had the bike, I’ve put in about 2,500 miles, and I have about 7 months of street performing experience. I’ll be on the road for a month. Ride. camp, ride, camp, ride, camp, ride. It’s a risky thing to do, yes. But a few years ago I firmly committed to the idea of becoming a character with a comfort zone outside itself. And frankly, this seems like something that character would do. Get out of school & ride a motorcycle cross country to be a street performer in New Orleans. Five years ago? Yeah right.
I’ve been spending a lot of time getting to know my steed. It’s my first and only, which means there’s been a mix of infatuation and naivety. I’ve fretted a lot over whether or not the bike is fully adventure ready. But realistically, it’d be years and years before the bike was really completely maxed out. There’s always going to be something more to do. I’ve gone over it thoroughly, and spent many hours in the last two months working on it. It’s not going to be perfect, and even if it was there would still be the ever present possibility that something will go wrong. There have been times when I’ve let worry get the best of me, my inexperience swelling into a frightening idea. The truth is, it’s a reliable machine carrying a reliable being. The whole thing is one big adventure. If I break down somewhere, that’s just another adventure within the folds of the larger adventure. All I can do is have faith that I’ll be capable of dealing with whatever lies ahead.
Yeah, motorcycles are dangerous. But you also could get hit by a comet. If my life were to (appear to) be in anyone’s hands, there’s none I’d trust more than my own. I believe this trip will be an invaluable learning experience. I believe in my ability to stay safe (wait till you see my gear. . . ). I believe I’ll meet some great people. I trust my judgement, and I feel that the Universe is unfolding exactly as it should.
Two nights ago, I had my cousin and uncle give the bike a once-over, to make sure there was nothing obvious I was unaware of. While they did so, flocks and flocks of birds flew over us, all headed in one direction. Spread out, they took up the entire skyscape above us. This lasted for at least 45 minutes. And it was inspiring. It’s time to go.
It’s time to leap.
I’ll soon be adding riding footage to the blog, and maybe trying my hand at vlogging. Thanks for joining me on this pilgrimage. I’ll do my best to share as much as I can.
Pz, <3, & =),