Openness and Vulnerability

I take the same bus everyday. I pass by the same houses and street corners.

Seasons change and make the experience different.

In winter the windows get dirty and grey, there’s not much to see. Spring and summer are more interesting.

When fresh air can enter through the open windows, we get a plethora of sounds that is otherwise inaudible.

Street chatter, cars passing by, honking and music. There’s this man on the corner of the busiest street that plays the violin everyday during the warmest months. He always stands barefoot on the sidewalk.

I realized today that I missed him.

I would be sad if he wasn’t there next spring.

As a city dweller, I’m lucky.

I get to hear all sorts of music everyday.

There’s the nice older gentlemen with his guitar on the metro around 5pm. He plays Beatles songs and Christmas melodies these days.

There’s the young guy with his flute in the underground tunnel downtown.

Sometimes I wonder why they show up day in and day out.

People pay little attention to them. A handful of change, a couple of smiles and nods is all they do it for.

The kids often ask me if the musicians are poor. Why do people play in the metro?

I always tell them that audiences are hard to come by. Artists don’t want to stay home and play for themselves.

An artist creates an experience that is meant for an audience.

Without a public, readers, listeners, eyes to contemplate, our work is meaningless.

It is impossible to be an artist without a willingness to be open and vulnerable. Every piece, every performance in its very existence says to the recipient “I made this for you”, “I’m creating this experience, this present moment, for you”.

In extending this gift to others, the artist is making a statement of his willingness to reach people no matter who they are, where they are in time and in life.

It’s putting a hand out into the world and telling everyone “I am here if you need me. I am here even if you don’t know you do yet”.

I think back to the sweet sounds of violin carried by last summer’s breeze and I say thank you for providing me with something I didn’t know I needed.

Even if he’s not there on the corner next spring, I can say that the notes he played still haunt the space.

Their echo resonates in me every time I pass by, reminding me how important it is to be open and vulnerable.

Just like him.

An artist, standing barefoot, among the crowd of passersby.

*Photo Credit: Kunal Shah flickr Creative Commons 2.0

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