By the by, I updated the last Hawai’i post with a video of Butterflies. But I’ll post it here, too.
Children characterized last Friday’s pitch at Brighton Le Sands. I think I’ve oft mentioned how I enjoyed my class with the Calvin Hill threes and how my post busking plans might include early childhood education. I think I’m good with children and I really love how energetic they are, making them smile, treating them like adults which they’re so grateful for, etc, but today i happened upon a reason why I might not be so well suited for such employment. Sometimes they’re too energetic. Way too energetic. The same batch of kids greeted me this night (I set up at five thirty) and perhaps because I set up while they watched or because they’d just finished school their hyperness and noise level were at high. Of course I love enthusiasm, and they’re so sweet and mean so well, but it just got overwhelming. As a highly sensitive person I seriously couldn’t handle it. Too much chaos and things to try to control and read… agh! It’s just like in a homegroup or jooksongs or a party when there are too many discrete personages with strong personalities and opinions and I’m reading them all and it’s a total overload.
They clamored for No One and then Tears in Heaven just like that last night. The boys rode bikes around and around me, screaming delightedly at each other and tossing a ball. The younger children rode scooters or casterboards, and like last night the two youngest girls sat quietly and attentively just in front of me. And then everyone began crowding at once, pressing in from all sides with requests – song requests, requests to say “Say this song is dedicated to Kayan and Lashaan.” To the former’s chagrin, all so insistent with an undertone of friendly competition and making fun within the group that I didn’t want to be a part of. So loud, blocking off the other passersby from seeing or hearing, me twirling my head around in circles trying to make sense of it all and finally just getting so absolutely flustered I gave up: I don’t know if I can explain that feeling of being completely overwhelmed just like I get at dance parties or sports games or big concerts – it’s like there’s so much … stuff out there screaming and screaming like a million babies and i feel dizzy and unstable and like breaking down and pressured… So I apologized to the kids and told them I couldn’t play for now, I had to sit down a moment. They were very nice and didn’t mind all too much, even though many of them had already tipped me with small coins.
Under the sympathetic gaze of the nearby convenience store workers I sat down on a bench just behind, still talking with the kids but quieter and not feeling quite so responsible for the ruckus on the street. The asked me all sorts of questions about my life and travels. One at a time, though, respecting and understanding my need for calmer times. The eldest girl, a very pretty thirteen year old by the name of Paris, a Kiwi, borrowed my journal to write me a note, getting many of the other children to sign it. I felt so overwhelmed for these twenty or so minutes that I just let them pass it around, pass my list, my business cards, my CD.
Naturally when things quieted down a bit later and they left for a soccer game, I still wasn’t on my game. I felt dazed and exhausted, but played by hour and a bit to a very warm audience. One middle aged woman who passed said something to the effect of “You should have been on that X Factor and not Altiyan, he was here a couple weeks ago and he sucked. You’re way better.” X Factor is an idol show, Altiyan just won it. Without the raucous children to scare them off, a lot of younger ones came and got their parents to tip through them. I think 80% of my tips came from hands less than ten years old. Must be a Friday thing, too. These younger children weren’t so pubescently charged and they’d approach quietly, sit or squat with my list, play with the coins in the case. My favorite two, Andrew and Michael of maybe three and five, stayed a long while. They’d inquire about my capo, what it was for, why it worked, why I needed to change it, about my songs. Michael, the younger one, requested songs though he couldn’t read based on the length of the text. Oh how pure and beautiful children are when intent and curious. And this made me realize perhaps early childhood isn’t a silly idea – it’s the middle school aged kids I couldn’t handle, and I already knew that, didn’t I?
Besides these little tips from little hands – mostly twenty and fifty cent pieces, only $5 in gold coins – a local evangelist coloured my pitch. He set up beside me handing out small leaflets reading “Eternal Life is a Free Gift,” and at one point asked me if I could sing any Christian songs. I figured, why not? So I sang all three I knew, all to quite a good response from the older passersby – as I said in my last post, I think it’s almost always good to just go with it. I particularly enjoy the memory of one early thirties man with a girl who pointedly went over to tip me a gold piece before paying any attention the the evangelist, who’d been speaking to him throughout. The evangelist was a nice chap, had nothing to tip me but offered me a drink when he finished up after forty five minutes or so, and helped convey what people said about me as they passed, or what they commented about me to him as he chatted with them. As passersby often note, my guitar doesn’t strike them as particularly interesting but they like my voice. Towards seven I knew I ought to finish soon, as the older folks and younger folks began to be replaced by frowning dolled up high heeled twenty something girls, compensating young men in loud motorbikes or blaring pop/techno out of open windows and sour faced old men.
On the walk back beneath gorgeous southern stars and a beautiful golden crescent moon, I happened to pass the lady who’d requested Don’t Speak the other night. We had a wonderful encouraging chat which helped smooth and calm me out for the rest of the dark way home. She told me she thought I was a local, couldn’t hear my accent at all. Funny that. 🙂
Earnings: 17.90 AUD, gumball, 1.5 hours
Song of the Day: No One – Alicia Keys