He’s tall, perhaps six foot six. Young, thin, beautiful -bruises,
needle holes and all. Soiled adhesive from band-aids long gone,
line both arms.
At his age, and at this time of year, he should be at the senior prom.
He’d be king, valedictorian, heartthrob -some parent’s pride and joy.
Instead, he’s on the street, busking guitar songs for change, doing his best
to get through another day. He’s ignored or judged by
the passersby of life -the ones who really need the “change”.
I close my eyes and think to him “You’re MY pride and joy!!”
He begins playing a very lovely song,
nervous and off rhythm because I’ve stopped to listen.
He hesitates, and in that space where magic is allowed,
disappears back into the song.
Maybe it’s the only place he feels he belongs,
-alone, lost to the world. Finding a world of himself in music.
I can relate.
The notes find his fingers. The words find his voice.
He’s gone, out of “here”, into being, singing. Ringing into light.
The song eventually comes to an end.
He lingers there briefly and finally opens his eyes, as do I.
He sees that I see him.
And he sees that I am gifted by his giftedness.
As I hand him some money, I ask
“What was that you just played?”
He turns sideways to me, as if addressing someone else.
Words tumble out -avalanche style, in a single breath,
as if he can’t wait to be silent again.
No way for me to make out what he said, so I shift the subject and
tell him a bit about the music I like to play.
Calmed, he nods and chimes in from time to time,
in avalanche speak.
Our conversation begins to trail off and I
-wanting to let him return to his work- bid him goodbye
and begin walking away.
He shouts out “Hey!”
I stop and turn, not facing him but sideways, listening
avalanche style. Smiling.
Slowly, with painfully deliberate enunciation, he says
“The …… song….. was…. Fake Plastic….. Trees
…… by….. …… Radio …Head.”
As a fellow musician, I’ll add that lovely song to my repertoire
and always remember and honor that
beautiful young man when I play it.
And to the poor passersby of life, I hope
one day you’ll realize that life’s not really about big money, spare change,
power or possessions, but the gifts that someone would share with you
if you would just stop, even for a moment, to see the beauty in
another human being and in doing so, catch a glimpse of it in yourself.