When you see an artist selling their paintings on the sidewalk, or a street busker playing his guitar behind his collection hat, have you noticed what goes through you mind about them? Does your brain register their existence at all? What attitudes, judgments or preconceptions does your brain bring to the situation?
These questions likely have not been considered by most people.
In recent months, I have been thankful for discovering my favourite independent Canadian film, Hit n Strum, (which is currently playing on SuperChannel!) about a business woman who hits a homeless street busker with her car, and how she deals with her guilt. I have been thinking about why this film has meant so much to me, and I have realized it is because it has opened my eyes to people who put themselves out there, how people ignore them and how that must make them feel. And in particular, how it has helped me dispel some of my preconceptions that I am happy to dispel.
Two weeks ago, I was walking along Vancouver’s seawall and came upon an artist who does lovely art work in coloured pencil. We engaged in a stimulating conversation about his experience with people in viewing his artwork, or not. He told me how he can be out in the hot sun all day, displaying his work, and sometimes only have one person buy his art in the entire day. He charges only $45 per piece. Thousands of people will stroll buy him and not even notice him. He went on to say how much he appreciated simply dialoguing with people about his work. In his case, he doesn’t do this for the money, he does this to share his passion with others, but he seems hurt when people just don’t care.
Last week, I was in Whistler where a street busker program is being piloted. I spent time I never previously would have, stopping at each busking site to really pay attention to their performance and feeling their passion.
So having opened my eyes to paying attention to people often overlooked has not only brought me more joy, but I hope it brings joy to these artists as well.
One small way to take time, be present and enjoy life more in our busy western lives.