Sunday, October 16, 2011

All The Leaves Are Brown And Golden And Crimson: An Essay On Summertime Moments To Remember

Psychologist, Daniel Kahneman describes our lives as a string of moments. He stated that each of these moments lasting up to three seconds, and each of us experiencing 20,000 or so moments in every waking day.

I suppose if one were to analyze any of these particular days from the cockcrow until sundown, one could determine in mundane detail 19,999 insignificant and uneventful moments. Waking up and looking at the clock, for example, becomes rather perfunctory 365 mornings a year. And so do the habits of waddling to the washroom, running cold water for the coffee, and reading the morning news become rather unremarkable. Most of us routinely move through such necessary actions without having to occupy much of our minds. This is called automaticity. Automaticity occurs with practice, practice, practice.

For example, there finally does come a time when you can drive home without having to think about it. Your vehicle seems to know its way home without any effort on your part, especially after you’ve so directed it there hundred times. When busking and playing my banjitar, I can strum through my set list in a daydream. In fact, when consumers stop to chat, I can visit without missing a beat. Automaticity is the magic of the mundane. We can get through most of our days without having to concentrate, without having to measure, without having to determine the input and output of every tedious and mandatory task.

Saying this, one need not have to be a Zen master to appreciate that all days do bring about moments that are stirring, moments of bliss and misery, moments of fervor and frost, moments of imagination and contemplation. But, being a busker in October, having to wear those mini cotton gloves in order to warm my fingers enough to strum my banjitar, I can certainly reflect on certain dog day moments that have warmed my soul. Learning to linger on certain moments is never easy – at least not while busking. However, appreciating these moments after the events is often requisite for introspection and amelioration.

From the string of yesterday summer moments: the sizzling scents of the foot-longs and farmer sausage wafting off the sidewalk grills; little children laughing as they bounce up and down to the beats of my banjitar; the jostle and the bumping through the throng while searching for that perfect busk spot; that quiet and shady thrumming place in the corner of the park; phatic and philosophic chit-chats and how-do-you-do nods of the people passing by; sitting curbside sipping Americano decafs; and of course, the clinks of coins being tossed into my instrument case.

Alas, all the leaves are brown and golden and crimson and the sky is getting greyer by the day. A busker’s Autumn ought to be a final explosion of buskapades, the last sidewalk strums whilst the sun still shines on the dry walks. Autumn is a time to find an eternity in every busking moment. Tom Stoppard said that every exit is an entry to somewhere else. Especially for buskers, Summer exits, Autumn enters, Autumn exits, Winter arrives.

With Winter comes the opportunity to tackle new finger actions on my banjitar, thrum new riffs on my twelve-string, practice on my pennywhistle, write new lines. To every season turn, turn, turn. A busker’s songs of Winter shall be tried in Spring and sold in Summer.

My cast of characters from the Chaucerian Parade this week:

  • A thirty-something man and his five year old daughter keep dancing after we’ve stopped playing. Baron and I are packing it up because my fingers are frozen. He walks over and tosses a fin into our buskpot. Because of this gesture we decide to play until their taxi arrives. Giving us thumbs up when his cab arrives, the driver jumps out, and tosses us a toonie.
  • A reptilian skinned guy wearing a black leather cowboy hat sits beside Baron on the curb. He asks Baron if he can pound the bongos, to which Baron obliges. Within one minute the leather guy yells that these are the very bongos he had given his brother and then were stolen and then were bought by Baron for a couple dollars. He continues to yell and threaten us by stating he is going to follow us and kill us. I took out my cell and gave him ten seconds to exit or I’d be dialing 911. Surprisingly, he got up and left.
  • Three little boys drop several cents into my banjitar case. Thrice more, they do the same thing.
  • A fellow stops and asks me where I bought my black snap button shirt. He states that he’s going directly to Madame Yes to look at the clothing line.

Buskers, no matter the season, of the 20,000 offered each day …

Whenever your fancy, this is your moment.

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