Remember one of my previous posts about music, the one describing how awful you may feel just from listening the wrong song at the wrong time? Well, something happened the other day, something similar but completely different.
It was a normal day, which means unusual just for being normal; not a happy day, not an unhappy day, just a regular day. But for some reason I had to go walk into town, lost amongst my thoughts, lost amongst the crowd, when suddenly something caught my attention. And there weren’t my eyes whose attention was caught, but my ears: someone was standing near a wall, singing in a microphone while playing the guitar. Of course, I had seen such street musicians before, so nothing was new. And it wasn’t even a song I knew – but disregarding the choice of the song, I usually stop to leave a few coins as a sign of appreciation, or perhaps as a boost of determination and self confidence. I don’t do it cause I pity them; I do it cause I feel they deserve it, they way you pay for a concert ticket, just this one is more intimate, more mysterious even… You don’t know the guy, perhaps you don’t even recognise the song, but in that infinitesimal period of time that takes you to walk in the area – cause it is infinitesimal compared to the time spent at a concert – you feel that the musician is performing for you only. A unique experience for any of the passers-by, as each of them pays attention to a specific part of the song, until they ears can’t hear any more, or their own thoughts become more overwhelming…
And such a unique experience has to be rewarded, right? They don’t really say a price. You may not listen at all, you may not even hear the song, so no one tells you to stop and put some change in the guitar case, unless you really want to, any amount you want. And so did I. I stopped to put a few coins, but before I left, I did something I’m not sure I usually do to any street musician – or perhaps I do, but his response transformed the moments into something more precious.
I said above I didn’t know the song – I still don’t know it, as I forgot it after I left the place, not until humming it in my mind for a little while. But it was something about that song, about the rhythm, which was not sad, not happy, just something in-between, like a sweet melancholy that overwhelms you when thinking about past moments… His voice also suited the song really well, not too deep, not too high, and his guitar blended in just perfectly – it was actually during a guitar solo that I stopped in front of him. I already knew music and love are somehow bound together: you can fall in love with someone due to a certain song, but you can also fall in love with an activity, a concept, anything, even… life. I know it may sound a cliché, but something like that happened to me right then: I just felt… euphoric, in a way. And although I felt it on the inside, this was reflected on the outside as well, as I found myself smiling the guitarist after dropping the coins.
Now, I suppose it’s not uncommon to smile after such a gesture. I’ve probably smiled before in these situations, just little smiles, which may mean compassion, appreciation, a boost of self confidence and also something like ‘Hey, I saw you, I heard you singing, thanks, I liked it, here’s some spare change. That’s what you wanted, right? Everyone’s happy now, so I may just smile a little to emphasise my kindness’. That kind of smile. The polite one, that usually gets a polite nod back from the singer, and perhaps even a subtle smile in exchange as well.
But that time, it was different. That music made me smile, not the usual kind of smile, but a large, honest, genuine smile. With teeth showing. I don’t know why, it was just something that happened. I wanted to show him I received the message, I understood his music and I appreciated it. I wanted to thank him for those moments, thank him for making me feel special, as if he was performing for my eyes and ears only. Cause I could see that his main priority wasn’t to make money from performing; he was just doing what he liked to do, in a way that made the others like it as well. He was the star of his own concert even though people would ignore him when passing by, and I respected that. I wanted to be able to share all of that through a smile, a real smile. And I know I managed to, cause he replied in order to let me know that he received my feelings. How? With another large, genuine smile, of course.
Although it all took a couple seconds before I continued my way and he continued singing that song, they somehow made a difference for me that day. Those moments proved me that indeed, there are reasons to smile every day even from the simplest things. And they also reminded me that happiness should be shared, that a smile which is returned can make someone’s day, and that I should continue paying attention to street singers – especially those who are not performing for someone in particular, but in the same time they are for you only.
Smile, it’s free! 😀