Sunday, January 8, 2012

Busk a Little Bit Closer: An Essay on the Concept of Love

The sun is a smudge in the smokey colored sky and the temperature is plus 1 degree. Cap-a-pie I'm clad in a black and yellow toque, a Boston Bruins classic outdoor jersey (under which a warm ski jacket), lined blue-jeans, scruffed and worn work boots, and half-gloves (like those on the hands of Dickensian characters depicted in wintertime). As usual, my thumbs are cold! Here is my routine: Play two songs, warm my thumbs, play two songs, warm my thumbs. My actual playing-time is less than my warming-time. Come Spring I’ll know more about the correlation between playing-time vs warming-time and coin in the buskpot.

As I busk I’m reminded again and again what a small world my pitch really is. Busking on a regular basis in a city of 200,000, I keep bumping into the same people over and over again. Today, I’ve chatted with the owner of the nearby gas station. I always purchase my petrol at his gas bar and we always chat about the local weather and local politics whilst I pay the bill. I’ve also chatted with a fellow who volunteers every day at the Wascana Rehabilitation Center. Our band, The Grand Trunk Troubadours, frequently performs there and he is always in the audience. A school-mate, Marcie, whom I’ve known all of my life stops and chats. Neither of us is from Regina, but we both have resided here for years. The security guard from Extra Foods stopped by, as always, to donate and chat. An elderly lady who always states that I play such delightful music drops, as always, a few coins into my case. And this consumer list goes on and on and on and on.

Being a buskologist, whilst warming my thumbs I am woolgathering on the concept of love. In a city of 200,000 people I seem to meet the same consumers repeatedly on my busks. For example, when I set my pitch at Extra Foods, I know pretty much which people will likely bump into me. When I set up at Safeway, I know, too, whom I’ll likely see again. Downtown busking is less predictable, but to a point I know I’ll greet at least a dozen consumers with whom I’m familiar.

It’s a small, small world for a local busker searching for coin, just as it’s a small, small world for anyone searching for love. Think about this. In a city of two hundred thousand people, I find my coin in the most predictable places; places that I’ve established myself for a variety of reasons, safety being among them. On a planet of 7 billion people, how is it that I can find my true love within minutes of where I live or where I work or where I play.

What are the odds? When in fact everyone on the planet is a potential mate, how is it that I my true love has always been right next door? I’ll tell you why.

Consider Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This comedy is about three distinct sets of characters and their concepts of love. There are royals and a band of fairies and a troupe of bumbling craftsmen, all romping about in a forest setting, falling in and out of love because of Puck’s potions and pranks. Generally, the theme of A Midsummer Night’s Dream has been accepted as the difficulty of love (The course of love never did run smooth -- Lysander, a character in the play).

This widely accepted theme misses the mark. The real theme of A Midsummer’s Night Dream is simply: We are, all of us, capable of falling in love with anyone at any particular time given the right circumstance.

The only reason we fall in love with the girl or guy next door is because of convenience. The only reason we run off with that gal or guy we’ve met at work is because of convenience. The only reason we fall madly in love with anyone is because of convenience. And Shakespeare’s A Midsummer’s Night Dream presents the physical transmogrification of such a meme and reality.

Most of our choosing of mates, rather than projecting the true concept of love, are adumbrated by the following criteria of colloquial gots:

-my mate has got to have heart (displays kindness and generosity toward me)

-my mate has got to have a sound mind (displays curiosity and interest in me)

-my mate has got to have money (displays a stable income with the means to help pay my bills)

-my mate has got to have a beautiful body (displays my svelte or zaftig physical tastes)

Along with the statistical evidence (fifty percent of us die within 100 miles of our birthplace, and by chance we also find our perfect mates, our true loves, within 100 miles of where we live), anyone in the workplace has the empirical evidence as well (who does not know couple who met one another in school or at work or by chance in the neighborhood).

Is giving hand to your sweetheart that really an emprise, really that adventurous? Especially if we can muster up the courage and the wildcat within us to travel the planet and find a true love anywhere we so desire?

Again, I answer: We search our true loves out of physical convenience and physical attraction. If our destiny is for physical convenience, our psychological risk is low (not having to experience the anxieties of job or resident or habit changes). If our loving eyes seek physical attraction, our psychological ids are high (after all, we imagine a beautiful body to be the Annie Oakley to rodeo pleasures forever).

Come (busk) a little bit closer, you’re my kind of man, so big and so strong …

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