Sunday, May 18, 2014


An adventure is any enterprise that is potentially fraught with psychological risk, such as a business venture, a love affair, or other life undertakings.  When I first began to busk, I was on an adventure.  I had anxieties, mainly instrumental and vocal competence and confidence issues.  That first summer of busking on the mean streets in Victoria, British Columbia, was a tough gig.  (No, the streets are not mean in Victoria, but it does sound better as a descriptor, not?)  It was a business risk.  It was not as exciting as a love affair, but did have the trappings of other life undertakings.  My Victoria busk happened eight years ago – I’m still busking.

An adventure is an experience that creates psychological arousal.  This arousal could be negative (FEAR) or positive (FLOW).  Fear is only a delusion; however, the lack of fear is also a delusion.  Flow is the mental state of being in the moment … in the zone.

My first time busking in Victoria was a tough gig because I didn’t have FLOW – I had only FEAR.  I had only fear because I did not know what I was doing.  I didn’t have the right song lists (I carried three binders of songs); I didn’t have the right equipment (I had everything, the binders, a shaker, a cowboy costume of green leather boots and a white hat, ; I didn’t have the right locations (I never then  realized that you need crowds to make coin).  In a line, I was a novice.

And I’ve had other fears previous (to busking).  When I defended my Master’s Thesis, to the External Examiner, my academic committee members, and the guests from academia who chose to attend, I had FEAR.  And I survived to tell about it.

When I had to play the glockenspiel in front of five hundred live audience members, including among them our Premier of the province, I had fear.  I was strategically placed high in the rafter seats, sitting among members of the audience, plunking as the keyboard echo for the Christmas song, Do You Hear What I Hear, knowing that any error would be so noticeable, not only to the live audience, but to the live television audience, too.  That was my one and only time ever (playing) on the glockenspiel.  I had FEAR.  And I survived to tell about it.

Adventurous activities are typically undertaken for the purposes of recreation and excitement.  I want new and exciting experiences.  I must want adventure, but not the ilk of rolling over Niagara Falls in a barrel.

Here is my latest attempt at adventure.  My son, Travers, lives in Amsterdam.  Last November he spent the entire month in Afghanistan conducting interviews with people in the city, people in the country, members of the military, to determine whether or not the U.S. Military interventions have improved the conditions for the citizens, a deconstruction of the construction efforts so to speak. 

Anyway … a Dutch journalist, whom he befriended, happened to be writing a book about the Taliban.  For the book publication she decided not to have a photograph, she wanted a pencil portrait of Hamid Karzai on the cover.  Travers enlisted me because … in braggadocio fashion, I have the uncanny ability to draw people’s faces!  Here is my pencil sketch of a hatless President of Afghanistan.


Travers then wanted me to sketch a picture of him for his academic website.  Here is that pencil portrait.

And then this past Saturday, I took my talent to the market.  I also packed my guitar just in case (pun intended).  I thought I would thrum awhile, then work up the nerve, jettison the FEAR, get into a FLOW, and sketch people for $10 a head. 

It turned out I could not just jettison the FEAR.  The FLOW I was accustomed to experiencing whilst guitar busking, did not transcend in my mind’s eye, to my enterprise of portraiture.  After three hours of guitar busking, I could not shake the FEAR.  Finally I decided to stave it off, and draw Greg, the metal artist, my vendor neighbor at the Farmer’s Market.  See Greg and my very first market pencil portrait below. 

I would love to close with Fear is only a delusion, but instead I’ll go with the Flow is being in the moment.  Derring – do next week if the weather agrees, I’ll be at the Farmer’s Market, aplomb and in the moment, as a dilettante pencil-pushing artist of portraiture (with a special thank-you to Greg and Valerie Asher of ASHER DESIGN LANDSCAPING).

To bastardize Robert Service …

There are strange things done under the mid-day sun, 
By the buskers who moil for gold …

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