Sunday, December 5, 2010

Where You Are Is Where It's At: An Essay On Carpe Diem, Zen, Existentialism, Phenomenology, And Busking

Fernie Alpine Resort is in the Canadian Rockies and Mission Ridge Winter Park is in the Canadian Praires. Where you are is where it's at – is an axiom of downhill skiing. I drive eight hours to ski in the mountains at Fernie a couple times a season; but rarely do I drive the forty minutes to ski in the valley at Mission! Mission is where I am and therefore, following the axiom, should be where it's at.

This ought to be a lesson for me, and it is (sort of) when I apply this axiom to other areas of my life. In order to do this I must first reflect on some notions of Carpe Diem, Zen, Existentialism, and Phenomenology.

I first learned about Carpe Diem when I was an English major in university. Carpe Diem at that time meant to me grasp the day. Later in other studies it took on seize the day. Today, most Latin scholars would interpret Carpe diem as literally, pluck the day (as in the fruit of the day), or more simply, enjoy the day. All these notions, however, mean the same thing. Enjoy, seize, grasp the moments when they happen. Do not dwell, do not rationalize, just kick the ball when it comes to you. The longer you linger on any opportunity, the less likely you are to enjoy or appreciate it.

I first happened upon Zen in my favorite read, The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig. Robert and his son, along with a couple of friends in Easy Rider fashion, hit the road on their motorcycles, traveling some of the northern states. The book, however, is much more of a travelogue. It's about the meshing of East and West philosophy as it relates to quality and the world of work. The more I read about Zen the more I realize it is not a religion (never mind one of the major world religions as it is often defined), for it is without a congregation and without dogma. In the world of Zen one simply appreciates life, moment by moment by moment.

The notion of Existentialism has a place on this same plane of thinking. Moments of existentialism arrive when we sometimes come to grips with the reality that our lives are just really, our lives, and that we exist only within them. Our quest for the values of life comes from the notions we have managed to gather within ourselves. What we as individuals decide to value will give meaning to our lives, give validity to our existence.

Phenomenology is to very much appreciate the synchronizations of life from a very first person point of view. To recognize phenomenology is to link together certain external experiences and then attach positive meanings to these experiences. Phenomenology relies on quite a strange ability, one that can connect people to places and to things.

Carpe Diem, Zen, Existentialism, and Phenomenology are all moment-to-moment recognitions and if one has an awareness and an ability to attach these moments together, these moments will most certainly enhance one's existence, improve one's life, so to speak.

And all of the above is true in the world of busking. Here are some soliloquys to keep your busking self in check:

  • I must never be a bastion of contentment, seemingly happy in my polished program of guitar replication day in and day out.

  • Each corner, each park, each storefront I busk is but a bivouac, a temporary encampment until I busk elsewhere.

  • Each time someone approaches and says something to me is to be considered another dram of someone else's life to be savoured.

  • All busk stations are ecotones, transition areas between entertainment and enterprise.

  • Any move up the block that I contemplate is but a finger snap, a fillip away, and therefore, can be done on a dime.

  • The majority of my customers gloze what is really going on in their lives.

  • Only I can control my kismet.

  • My memories oft are hazed through romantic nostalgia, a distant mirage to where I can never return.

  • Improving my life does not demand a sea change – I just need an awareness to recognize and appreciate each and every moment.

  • Peace only exists because there is sturm and drang in my life.

To be comfortable in one's own skin is quite a life accomplishment. And strumming and singing on a public sidewalk with an open guitar case is offering your skin to the world, exposing your warts moment by busking moment.

Fellow buskers, where you are is where it's at – so pay attention!

When I was young my friends and I used to go down the line, stopping at all the bars along the way. Here is a song I wrote about what might have happened:

Hotel d'Paris (de Paree)


Am D Am (X whenever)

Am C E E7


[Am] My love for [D]Carol[Am]ine

[Am]At Hotel [D]de Pa[Am]ree

[Am]My love for [C]sweet Carol[E]ine

[E]Is greater than in[E7]finity

(V 1)

[Am]Goin’ [D]down the [Amline

[Am]To see my [D]sweet [Am]Caroline

[AmAt Hotel [D]de [Am]Paree

[Am]She’s still singing [D]in my [Am]dreams


Am D Am

Once upon a time

Am D Am

Goin’ down the line

Am D Am

I met my sweet Caroline

Am D Am

Singing at Hotel de Paree


(V 3)

Am D Am

Goin’ down the line

Am D Am

To see my sweet Caroline

Am D Am

Hopin’ she’ll be mine

Am D Am

And leave Hotel de Paree


1 comment:

  1. Dodeedo... 24 days w/o a new post??? I can only read so many sports blogs...8-P ... You and my picture friend are both letting me down. hahaha Hope you had a great Christmas and have an even better New Year!!!
    P.S. Don`t worry Guyzer`s gettin harrassed too!LOL