Monday, March 04, 2013

Why is asking so hard?

I never felt comfortable with other people or society's rules. I thought I was surrounded by idiots. I couldn't even work out why I was on this planet.  I didn't want a job, or property, or respect, or power, or privilege.

I immediately fell in love with the assorted Zen fools that I came across in the literature, and in Western culture the bohemians and tramps and others who simply did not share the values of those around them.

At the same time, I felt sad to be alienated, because when humans act kindly, they seem really great!  I began to feel that in the 60s, when I also stopped feeling so alone, but that didn't really help me re-integrate with society, as I didn't display any musical or graphic talent that could be traded, for instance.

Street performing emerged from my defiantly spending my time on something I found interesting, and taking no heed for the practicalities of tomorrow.  It was other people who spotted the potential, and started to offer trade-off payments in kind (food, shelter, lifts, clothing)  in return for the entertainment value they perceived.  I never managed to hustle my hat-passing, like some of the more efficient/proficient performers who came along later, and turned it into a real profession.  I simply did my thing, and then told people that was all I did, and if they wanted to see me again, they could contribute, and that if they had no money I hoped they enjoyed it.  And that's all.  I have always been embarrassed to ask, and never could beg, for instance, I'd rather starve.

So everything in Amanda Fucking Palmer's wonderful TED talk rang bells for me, from the 'get a real job' jibes, to wondering whether I was somehow exploiting people and relationships, and whether it was fair to act 'as if the world owed me a living'.  I went through all that angst, and it was only the warmth and reassurance of other people (the audiences and students) that convinced me I was genuinely earning my right to be here, to do play/work.  And having regained my trust in people around me, other opportunities opened up.  Please, especially if you are a creative person, give Amanda just under 15 minutes of your time.

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