Busker in Berlin

Let me take you by the hand and lead you through the streets of London…

He sang on Wilmersdorfer Strasse, dressed in khakis and a button-down shirt. If it weren’t for the fact that he was busking, he could be taken for any other professional walking up and down the busy shopping street. In fact, he probably was a professional, maybe a lawyer or a teacher, with a roof over his head at night, and maybe a family.

His hair was white and silky, and it fell almost boyishly onto his forehead. His face was wrinkled, and as his lips moved each line was accentuated, so that once you could see the deep lines below his nose and then you saw the valleys in his brow.

So how can you tell me you’re lonely, and say for you that the sun don’t shine?

He smiled at the photographer taking his picture. He looked to the photographer’s left, and saw a girl smiling back at him, so his own grew wider. He came to the delicate melodic part in the song that he loved most of all, and he closed his eyes as his fingers plucked the strings.

In our winter city, the rain cries a little pity for one more forgotten hero and a world that doesn’t care.

He finished the song and saw a Euro drop from the photographer’s fingers and into his small case, littered with coins. He nodded, grinning, at the pair, and they smiled back and walked on. He looked after them, although they didn’t look back at him. He saw them draw nearer each other, remembering that they had each other and being thankful for it.

He didn’t need to be out there on the streets of Berlin, singing and playing for strangers. At his age, he could retire comfortably and didn’t need the income. But he didn’t play for the twenty or so Euros that would accumulate within a couple of hours. He played for the joy and the sadness, for the truth and the lies and for everything else that a voice, words, and a guitar could express.

Everything Can Change

Everything can change, between one moment and the next. Anything can cause the change, as long as it triggers something within your mind. It can be a snatch of song, floating from a car window that reminds you of an event from the past. It can be the way a leaf falls from a tree, looking just like a similar one that you saw a week before. It can be just a few words of a conversation that two people walking by your are having.

Everything can change, between one moment and the next. The sky, that looked so blue and wonderful can turn into a scorching, painful color. The breeze, that felt so pleasant and cool and sweet, can now make your hands feel like ice. Your very insides, which felt so balanced and serene, can turn into a flurry of angry bees, buzzing and stinging and making your muscles clench.

Everything can change, between one moment and the next. It’s impossible to shut out those day-to-day coincidences that meet our eyes and ears and remind us of things. So, we accept the fact that everything can change. We accept the fact that our emotions are irrational, strange things. We accept, and we live with it.

Everything can change between one moment and the next. Sometimes, things change for the worse. But when things change for the better, in the space of a breath, it feels like a gift.

With Eyes Shut

I sit in front of my computer. My screen is showing the “Add New Post” page on my Worpress blog. I have nothing to say. I sit, and I stare, and my fingers ache from keeping the awkward position of just hovering above the keyboard. My mind feels blank.

And yet, I stop thinking for a moment. I stop trying to plan what I want to say. I realize that as I’ve been sitting here, I’ve been feeling a whole range of things quite outside the blank page on my screen and my thoughts on how to fill it. I shut my eyes.

I take a deep breath. My mother is cooking in the kitchen. She’s making a breaded chicken dish, and it smells wonderful. In fact, it smells so strongly that I know the people in the apartments below us can smell it too. I’m sure that they, like me, are salivating, feeling a sudden urge to eat something fried.

I let my breath out, and concentrate on my hearing. I can hear the sound of the sizzling chicken in the pan, and for a moment my sense of smell takes over again. I shift my concentration back to my ears, those oddly shaped things sticking to the sides of my head, and listen. I can hear my mother talking to the cats. I can hear Massive Attack playing on the stereo. Odd music, but beautiful. Part of the sounds of home in a way.

I think of my mouth, my sense of taste, and I realize that the smell in my nostrils is so dominant that I can almost taste the food already. I let it go, knowing that soon enough I will be tasting it in truth.

Finally, I think of my fingers, and the way they feel gliding blindly along the keyboard. They’re on familiar territory, and I feel that they’re hardly in my control because they manage to move so fast, darting from one key to the next and making another sound for my ears to hear – the tick-tack-click-clack of the keys being pushed down hard, each one only for a moment before my fingers jump over to the next key. If I’d look down and see how fast they were moving, or how oddly they looked, I would probably lose my focus entirely and they’d tangle up and make mistakes. Best to let my fingers alone and let them do as they will.

I open my eyes. I see the end result, the thing I was striving for – a full page.

Mind-Space

Oftentimes it feels as if that space between one’s ears, that space that isn’t very large and shouldn’t be able to hold so much information – that space sometimes feels overfull. Thoughts crowd it, vying for position as the foremost amongst them. Feelings, which ultimately are all just caused by strange surges of electricity or chemicals, feelings also seem to crowd their own chambers; they don’t often make sense, and they tend to mix with the thoughts more often than not, causing a terrible tangle.

If only one could card out one’s thoughts and emotions like so much dirt out of wool. If only there were a way to silence the hundreds of half-formed ideas and concepts that jump around, just for a moment, just for a temporary relief. The silence and the privacy of that place in the mind seems somehow to be overwhelming and crowded, and one can’t help but wonder how, and if, anyone else deals with this.

Who knows? Perhaps you’re the only one with a crowded, tangled, snarled and unorganized mind. Perhaps everyone else’s minds work differently, perhaps they’re organized in tidy drawers and the thoughts can be pulled out neatly, one by one, and examined at the thinker’s leisure. Then again, maybe not. Maybe humanity, that sole race that seems to have such an extent of consciousness, is made up of billions of confused and messy-minded individuals, and each wonders if their mind is unique or if it is like this for everyone.