I've had a wee request about my busking ADVICE at the Toronto International Circus Festival.
The context of this circus festival is a forum for street theatre around the world in one comfortable visually stimulating Victorian Industrial area of Toronto.
I was very fortunate to participate in the circus festival last weekend. I set up a couple chairs and a sign simply saying ADVICE within a gold frame. What I like about this idea is that it is an alternative to the expensive cost of a lawyer, shrink or psychic. And yet, it might appeal to folks who are not interested or have the time for Oprah or Dr.Phil. I could be the antidrphil.
I found I was entirely entertained by looking into the faces of people as they walked by. There were large numbers of people who never cracked a smile, tried to avoid eye contact, and walked by as quick as possible. Then there were scores who just were laughing and delighted by the sign and me sitting there smiling. They got it. Often it was one of them that came up to me. And they often said "give me advice". I would say, "anything, just random advice?" And they would smile and nod.
I would supply them with a nugget of advice about farming:suggesting we grow all our food in cities, avoid eating prison food (bread, rice, noodles, potatoes) or advise them to park their car except for road trips, avoid buying any new clothes or household items or any shopping for a year...they will feel rich. I advised they think about corn, after all it takes a gallon of oil to grow a bushel of corn. So why the devil would we want to develop corn based fuel for cars?
Then there seemed to be a lot of negative types of folks who looked at me like I told them their teenaged child had lost their virginity. They looked at me and then their company as if "who does she think she is to give away advice?" Complete disgust.
And then there were the naysayers who approached me. "What qualifies you to give advice?"
"Is that worth two bucks to you to know?"
Maybe these folks wouldn't have participated, but once I ask them if that's their question, they kind of get commited to hearing my answer and will agree to a donation. I would answer them with the following resume.
I have been a bartender all my life. I did improv for ten years, and I write scripts. I have travelled so much that my conversations with needy fellow passengers and listening to their life stories have made me wise and determined to cure the world of unhappy fellow travellers so a girl can get some sleep on an overseas flight. One year I read 300 books.
Two bucks in the hat no problem.
The most rowdy customers were often two couples out on the town. One guy said..."advice...oh we gotta try this" He had me laughing and his wife and friends laughing and I gave it right back at them. Very fun.
Ten bucks in the hat no problem.
But it wasn't all vaudeville and lively banter. I had many many serious questions that took a fair bit of time to ask the asker questions so I could get a better idea of what was going on with their challenges in life.
Lots of questions about travel and health. How to get a boyfriend. When to conceive. Should I call him. Should I call her. Should I get a whippet.
I was so blown away by the number of people who had such serious and sincere questions and I met a lot of wonderful folks and had some great conversations and hopefully hopefully a few of these fine people had a sense of peace or at least a feeling someone was ready to listen with no vested interest in their predicament but still felt responsible.
I don't want to give away the literal questions I was asked as some of them were deeply personal. But it was such a rewarding experience I took it to the financial district today and will try the beach tomorrow.
My general impression is that there are a lot of people out there that are not quick to smile, and that makes me a little sad. Mind you...after working a ridiculous 40 hour week, in stuffy offices and the world going to hell in a handbasket...what's to smile about? Maybe just maybe me and my advice sign will bring a few more smiles to the world. Cross your fingers.
I'd like to sit in Gaza and give advice.
I would say...sit down, don't eat, don't move, don't retaliate. If you took to a peaceful demonstration and sat among the bombs the whole world would be on your side.