Saturday, March 16, 2013


As chilly as it was, Michael O'Dillon was there hunched down upon the pavement, busking in front of the liquor store.  His entire body was shaking from the cold.  

The last time I saw Michael O'Dillon was in late Autumn, when we were busking together.  On that day he wore his usual heavy metal garb:  a headband through his long and straight black hair, a black leather silver-studded jacket, torn blue jeans, scruffy black steel-toed workboots.

On this day his usual nimble strumming fingers were hidden in his parka pockets.

It’s too cold for this, Neil, he said smiling at me.

I can see that, I replied while tossing a couple of toonies and loonies into his guitar case.

Michael is a guitar busker.  He used to be a welder.  He used to be in retail (stocking shelves).  This last couple of years he’s been a busker.  Even today in this frosty and biting clime, Michael O'Dillon is choosing to be a busker.

Thanks, Neil, I really don’t know why I’m here, Dillon stated.

You’re more than welcome, man, I replied, I don’t really know why I’m here either.   

And that got me thinking (because it is still too cold to go busking) …

Fellow Earthlings,

We are seven billion in number and none of us really know why we are aboard this blue speck orbiting through the vast emptiness of space.  We are seven billion in number and we are all doomed to die, without ever really knowing the reason why. The skinny of Zen, to live is to suffer, is for soothe, in that we’d rather be living and wondering and suffering than be dead.  Yes, we do have rather stark notions of where we’re from and where we’re going but really … these are just simple (sometimes complex) speculations based on belief systems and faith.   

And it is, precisely this personal belief system to which each of us adhere, that makes all of us … Existentialists.

Existentialism alleges that all of us are responsible for giving meaning to our lives, that each of us creates a Kierkagaard kindred sense of order and purpose, so that we are able to dispel the overwhelming confusion in an apparently meaningless world.  If this is true, then we are all truly delusional.  Yikes!

Let us examine what all of us know.

All of us have Annie Oakley tickets for choosing pleasures unlimited as we thrillingly ride on this blue orb spinning within our self-proclaimed Milky Way midway.  There is but one catch; however, we’ve just a limited time to do so – on our side of the planet we’ve an average lifespan of 78 years for men, and 82 years for women.  During this limited existence we can, almost at whim, become whomever we decide, embracing multiple roles during our century long course.  Some of these roles are simple and some of these roles are difficult.

We have these years to do whatever we want, to create and to learn. Some of choose to be healthy; some of us choose to be wealthy; some of us choose to be wise.  Some of choose to couple; some of us choose to be single.  Most of us choose to stay put; some of us choose to travel.  Some of choose to be jobbers; some of us choose to be thieves; some of us choose to be beggars; some of us choose to be buskers.

As members of a species, we are gregarious.  We long to live in a community.  In each of our communities we have a pecking order.  We long to be loved by others.  We long to be famous.  We love to fantasize.

We yell, we sing; we yang, we yin.

We are quiet.  We are katzenjammer.

It’s not easy being a human being, especially a decent human being.  All of us have arrived with human instincts encoded in our genes.  We all are on self-preservation from dangers both physical and psychological.  As a result, we are aggressive; we are passive; we are selfish; we are selfless.  Sometimes we are bullies in other peoples’ faces; sometimes we are victims, pitied and faceless. 

Whatever we are, whatever we do, we are flawed. 

Some of us are spiritualists; some of us are atheists.  Some of us are devotees; some of us are disinclined.  Some of us are conservative; some of us are democratic.  Some of us are capitalists; some of us are communists.  Some of us are from collectivistic cultures; some of us are from individualistic cultures. 

We cannot choose our parents and we cannot choose our birthplace.  We can, though, choose our destiny.  Even so, the majority of us die within 100 miles of our birthplace, and most of us meet our soul mates at work. (Some of us are adventurous; some of us are cowardly.)

Whether we choose to be dandy corporate climbers or beat-down bums, we concurrently choose our values.  No matter our chosen positions, we can choose whatever we decide that it is to be a human.  And we can demonstrate these values in our everyday living.  We can choose our life purpose and we can act accordingly.  We can choose to be responsible; we can choose to be slovenly. We can choose to be compassionate; we can choose to be callous.  We can choose to be flexible; we can choose to be rigid. 

We choose the roads we travel – the roads do not choose us.

I travel the busking road.  Rather than an endless summer road of academia, I chose busking.  Sometimes I've regret, but mostly I've not.  The busker road can be bumpy and stressful, but more often than not it is royal and svelte.  Tranquil or taxing, all roads we travel are a matter of personal perspective.  Our lives are up to us.  My summer is busking, and busking is my life. 

Attempting to discover who we are and why we are, we search within and without.  We dig in the dirt and we search in the stars.  Whatever celebrant or humble purpose there is for our species, please keep in mind, fellow Earthlings …

We are all of us brothers and sisters under the shining doomsday sun.     

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