Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Road to El Dorado, A Different Kind of Homeless Fifth Entry

Quartzsite and Tonopah behind us, we went to Mesa to visit friends. Our two vehicle caravan worked its way through the heavy Phoenix traffic and we were offered the chance to go work set up at the Renaissance Festival. We debated. We didn't really want to go there, neither of us had reason to motivate us to entertain there other than love of patrons and love of entertaining. We did want to see our friends and do a little work, to add to the coffers. When we warmed to the idea, it ended up vanishing due to plan changes. Ironic. Now we REALLY wanted to do faire.

Everyone says "Do what you love for a living." I love telling stories. I love experiencing life. I love entertaining. I love hearing laughter and creating magic. I love being able to pay bills and buy groceries too.

Last year was a year of learning lessons for me. It seemed like every hard lesson lined up to wallop me with a dose of "now don't forget it!"

 Never sign a contract you don't agree to, thinking you can get it made right later.

If someone doesn't offer you what you are worth, it isn't something wrong with you- don't stick around hoping that that will change, go find the folks who value you and give them your all.

Nobody is perfect, and never give someone loyalty just because they let you feed your ego a little; never do an agreement with a friend in trust or you may find that the friend isn't such a friend.

If it can rain on a weekend when you have permission to busk, it will.

Regardless of what you're told bubble magic in the street does not result in high tips, even when they love it.

El Dorado, we worked our way down the coast and down craigslist. Housesitting, Nursery work (tree farm), to seeking sales work or busking permissions at Quartzsite. El Dorado keeps dancing out of reach. The next El Dorados: busking outside of the Superbowl and Tuscon's many Gem and Mineral shows.

As we continue our Wal-Mart tour and I do contract work as we go, we've noticed the many signs in the Mesa and Apache Junction area discouraging the presence of transients. In fact, we've spent about five nights now in the area without sighting a single wandering soul. This morning I drove into Phoenix and met a pleasant man sitting outside a Jack in the Box smiling as he watched all the traffic flow past like water. He nodded at me, no signs or begging. Just a smile and a nod. A worker ran out and gave him a pack of cigarettes unasked for. He graciously thanked her. How did I know he was homeless? There is a look in the eyes, of seeing the world with detachment; wondering where the next miracle will come from. I gave him several tangelos; I've been carrying a bag of them in my car that were gifts picked from a friend's tree. Did you know if you have edible plants or fruit in your lawn, one of the most profound things you can do is pick it or allow others to come and "glean" it (pick it) to give to homeless or low income people in your area? You can even put it in a basket by the road that says "free" or share with your neighbors. Home grown produce is healthy and is a wonderful gift.

Gradually, my books sell; people ask about my jewelry and gigs come along just often enough to keep me floating forward in a beautiful free fall. Last night I talked with a good friend, Taylor Grant. Taylor is one of the best storytellers and puppeteers in the country. Taylor has lived most of his life in free fall and told me he envied me; life gets boring and predictable when you structure it. He has booths at several festivals making and selling wonderful products using his storytelling to engage patrons. He has given more smiles and joy in his life than a hundred people put together. I told him he is right, I have never lived in free fall until last year, and I am finding I enjoy it. I do not like the difficulty of getting approval or budgeted because our plans are so sporadic and unpredictable. Somehow that only makes the high points more rewarding.

Danny and I look at each other, time to search for El Dorado again. Agreed, time to busk; balloon animals on leashes even ghost and zombie ones! I can't help but add an artistic touch, with my sharpie markers the innocent balloons become goofy or gory in a few decisive squeaky strokes. Perhaps we will paint a backdrop and show up at street fairs doing the old guess your age and weight; perhaps he will do magic, cups and balls. Perhaps I will get out the paints, the dress and the hat and you will find me coated with paint, surrounded my incredulous and amazed painters as I weave their dreams. Or we could end up serving you food or selling you someone's creations; I might be the silent, dancing mascot you hug. I was Tony the Tiger last summer and hugged thousands of people at FanFest in Minneapolis.

In the stories, they never found El Dorado. Maybe we will, maybe we won't. Maybe we will find experiences worth more than gold and friends more priceless and unforgettable than any material good. Look around you today, are you on a different road to El Dorado? Are you chasing a chance? Are you spending the time you can living with the people you love, laughing, striving, and making memories that can never be lost? Too many people get so caught up in the chase, they miss the journey. We are on the journey and I am going to cherish every good and bad moment of it. Perhaps the road is the gold? I know that the cost I pay to spend the time I have with the person I care about the most is worth it, I will never regret it. We never know how long we have in this life, are you spending as much as you would like with the people you love or are you always putting it off for one reason or another?

I hope I see you on my journey. I hope to enjoy your smile and your laugh. Today I met two other Angelas at Starbucks in Phoenix. Angella had the most beautiful smile I have seen in a long time, like the sun coming out after a long rain. I consider it a good omen. She and her mother Sylvia were sweet; we talked for several minutes before continuing in our different directions. Three Angelas in a row ordering at Starbucks, the cashier just laughed. Things that never happen, that really do.

Angella is from Jamaica; she moved to the United States having wanted to experience life here when she was a child. She is a teacher and wants to travel the world when the time is right, to teach and experience other countries fully- not as a tourist. She values dreams and human connection, everything happens for a reason and to be happy you have to listen to your heart and live. Her words were as bright and sincere as her smile. Sylvia, her mother; was sweet and kind. The warmth of their two hearts was such that I was grateful for chance bringing our paths together in a coffee line. I told her to keep in touch and that I was writing about our meeting, which brought a bigger smile. Her words of wisdom to share: dream, live and travel. See the world, not as a tourist but really go places and learn the culture. Live and remember there are no coincidences.

Safe travels to all of you, wherever you choose to make your path. Hard paths are worth it. There are many paths.