Monday, March 4, 2013

Busking and Hitching

 I was always a more successful hitchhiker than I was a busker.
Recently I was reminded of the similarity between both activities when I listened to a presentation from Amanda Palmer of the The Dresden Dolls, who started her performing career as one of those all white statue buskers who don't move. 
In the talk she describes an exchange of giving where the busker gives a performance and the stranger strolling past gives a coin or two. Nothing particularly exciting there as this is the principle of our international free trade economy - I give you a product and you give me money. 
The exciting thing she describes is the fleeting exchange between the two where their eyes meet and lock for a few instants and there would be this unspoken flash that would say "thank you" and theirs would suggest "thank you for acknowledging me and helping me feel more visible and less lonely" 
Hitch hiking was a bit like that. (I've retired my roadside amble.) Strangers would give me a ride somewhere, sometimes to my destination and sometimes not. I'd provide them company and a few yarns. For a little while, my presence would break up the monotony of their journey as they lived vicariously though my adventures as a hitcher - just about always with the same sorts of questions "What's it like standing beside the road waiting?
Anything awful happen? Do people abuse you?
Why don't you have a car?"
And we'd talk story and make each others lives a little better for a little while.
It's an amazing feeling giving and appreciating the giving of others.
It's amazing how total strangers will help each other if they are only asked.
For free.

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