Thursday, October 8, 2015


Wanna be a busker?  Full-time? Or faux time?  Hmmm … decisions, decisions …

According to Jeff Shinabarger, there are seven styles of decision making (Yes or No:  How Everyday Decisions Will Forever Shape Your Life).

1. COLLECTIVE REASONING … the gathering of group decisions and then deciding … Hmmm … if they can be buskers, then so can I.  If you could witness my competition in Regina, Canada, you would surely agree that anyone can be a busker.  In front of any liquor store in this city, generally you’ll find beggars strumming guitar who can’t play a note and dregs blowing stinky discords into harmonicas. Saying thus, of course there are counter-patterns, university music majors thrumming in summer, and real guitar-slinging buskers who are just passing through town, usually heading west, who can really shred a guitar.  Going elsewhere to buske, however, say to Victoria on the west coast of Canada, or to Halifax on the east coast of Canada, buskers such as I would really have to step up their game. Busking is not living in Lotusland.

2. DATA DRIVEN … to formulate a decision based on hard core data, especially numbers.  Hmmm … do the math.  Usually when I busk I make 35 to 50 dollars an hour, but that is only at the peak hours.  For example, busking over a noon or supper hour my take is high; whereas, busking mid-morning or mid-afternoon, my take is low.  If I were to busk for five or six hours per day, including those peak hours, my take would be between 75 and 100 dollars.  To calculate on the conservative side, five days at 75 dollars would be 375 dollars per week, multiplied by four makes 1500 dollars per month.  Methinks if I decide to sell EVERYTHING I own, ditch driving my Acura  and quit buying my black and white shirts, and rent a broom closet to live in, I could make it work.  And it would be work because … if you’ve ever been busking, you know it ain’t easy.

3. GUT REACTION … relying on your feelings to make quick decisions.  Hmmm … generally speaking, this is a bad idea.  The romantic notion of busking is always (for me) the draw of busking.  I love it, love it, love it.  I love to mess my hair, don my shades, pull on a tight white T, faded jeans and work boots, and stand and strum and thrum whilst blowing into my C or Am harp.  In my busker beginnings I had hair-brained ideas.  I can remember dressing like a cowboy; I can remember having a karaoke invite (complete with sign) for my potential consumers; I can remember choosing out of the way perfect (looking) buskspots that appealed to me, but not to my consumers.  All of these mentioned actions were based upon gut reactions and spontaneous and desperate attempts to be a busker.  In the beginning my busking was capricious.  Now my busking, upon reflection (and I reflect often), is putting lots of thought into my attire and locations. 

4. LIST APPROACH … listing the pros and cons again and again on paper.  Hmmm … I’d rather be busking.  In contrary to what I’ve written just above (GUT REACTION), baptism by fire is the only way to learn how to busk and to improve your busking.  There is little comparison to hitting the sidewalks with real busking to those theoretical what if’s you write on a list.  And those lists are most certainly biased, for if they were not, nobody would decide to be a busker based upon this method of decision.  Let us imagine the pros … romance, adventure, wanderlust, compared to the cons … demeaning, bad weather, little money … but … lists are for pedagogues, not buskers.

5. SPIRITUALLY GUIDED … that is waiting for a voice or looking for a sign to determine your destiny.  Hmmm … this what-would-Jesus-do style of decision making only works if you can stretch your phenomenological thinking to the money lending practices in the market place, an economic epiphany so to speak.  

6. STORY LIVING … is making the decision based upon the imaginary stories you plan on telling of your buskapades.  Hmmm … I remember Christine, the bag lady with the shopping cart, her beer breath on my folk songs, because she stood so close with her sing-alongs.  Then there was this drunk who took a swing at me, twice.  And the guy who tried to steal my buskmate’s bongos.  I've lots of great stories from lived bad experiences.  See my blog entry, THREE CITIES, THREE GUITARS (August, 2014), a storied adventure of my European buskation.  Such story living is really quite Aesopian in nature, in the sense that all the consumers and players that participate in my world of busking do not know that they could become main characters in my stories.

7. PASSIVE UNDECIDED … is when you creatively procrastinate and simply really on destiny. Hmmm … if you were a busker having such an abulia, not to choose is really a choice that will lead you to the nearest soup kitchen.

The hardest thing about the road not taken is that you'll never know where it might have led (sort of Lisa Windgate).  I travel on that busking road approximately 60 days a year and it always leads to fun and adventure. 

We all make choices -- but in the end our choices make us (sort of Ken Levine).  Truly, we can become whom we want to become.

If you always make the safe decision -- you will always be the same as everyone else (sort of Jan Arden).  Yes, living a middle-class life is a safe and secure misadventure.

When your values are clear -- your decisions are easy (sort of Roy Disney).  Based upon action and reflection and introspection, there finally comes a time in everyone's life when we know what is good for us.  Knowing, however, is easier than doing.

Dear reader, 
'Tis time for me to hit the street!


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