A Poem about Getting Old, No Pills, Being a Busker (aka Street Performer)

A poem I wrote:  I am a coward because other poems I write are not revealing my deep fears etc. but this one does.  It is about my fear of being seen as an old, crazy lady who has never succeeded who keeps telling everyone she is a singersinger/songwriter.

It is also about busking – becoming a street performer…Recently I have decided the best way to launch my songwriter/guitarist career at age 58 is on the street – in San Francisco and other places.  Since trying to play in clubs etc seems so labor intensive – the calls, the being ignored,  the few gigs that pay so little…it just seems easier to show up, wheel in my battery operated amp and microphone, and sing my heart out…not sure if I can make any money this way but for now i have a loving spouse who is willing to fund my art adventure – although he is getting impatient since I have been earning zero and we need the money…

So here goes – my poem to express how I think I am a crazy old nut for trying to be a “songwriter” and how I also think that by not writing about this exact fear, I will not be a good songwriter.

Old and Unsuccessful

Bumps on my hips

Lumps in my breast

to forget to be old

I’m doing my best

To keep writing songs

That live to be sung

To live for the next

I write another one

I’m plodding along

in my dorky fashion

ploddings ok

it begets passion

I read the New Yorker

for inspiration

of poets past

and our crumbling nation

and hold court on the street

to whomever will listen

polish my words

out here ’til they glisten

Sick of hearing

it’s not for sissies

yes I’m older

than Ulysses

Dream of someday

re-living my past

The man that got away

returning at last

Confessing his love

I was right all along

It must be true

Cause I’m singing this song

and you’ll hear as I do

it proves one thing

I’m crazy as hell

I feel that sting

It’s hard to bare

but easier still

than closing up shop

going back on the pills

(note:  I was going to correct the spelling of “bare” but it seems fitting to leave it grammatically wrong for obvious reasons?)

A Quote from Rinzai ( d.866), and Jazz by Kenny Burrell

Today I want to take the time to think about the following quote:

“Today’s students of the Buddha-Dharma need to look for genuine insight. If you have genuine insight, birth and death will not affect you, and you will be free to come and go. Nor do you need to look for worthiness; it will arise of itself.

Followers of the Way, do not let yourselves be deluded by anyone; this is all I teach. If you want to make use of genuine insight, then use it right now without delay or doubt.

Students nowadays do not succeed because they suffer from lack of self reliance. Because of this lack, you run busily hither and thither, are driven by circumstance, and kept whirling by the ten thousand things.-“
Rinzai ( d.866)

I found it very empowering to read “if you want to make use of genuine insight, then use it right now without delay or doubt.”

That makes me feel like a child, who knows without doubt the value of feeling good, of wanting and then receiving a desired thing (be it material, experiential or emotional, mental)…

As an adult I often question the voracity of wanting anything – would it be good if I got it, what if I can’ t  get it…all this just keeps me from living…keeps me in fear, in a place where I am fighting to be “not – alive”….but the statement “use it right now without delay or doubt” opens it all up for me…When I watch a video (like the one I have posted below), I can see without delay or doubt how I will practice today:

…I practice in the wake of the greatness I experience in the videos of  Wes or Herb or other great guitarists.  I will flow with it …for the joy of it…like a child on fire with the delight of mastery — just for the sake of getting lost in the pursuit, not because it will lead to a gig or impress someone else.

What is your “Path With A Heart?” Know it–for it is the only path that is any good.


path 2If I  don’t “make it” as an artist, should I quit?

That isn’t the question, that isn’t even the even the…That misses the whole point.  A musician friend on Facebook posted that he was discouraged about not making more money with music and not getting emotional support from community and family–thus he was thinking of quitting.

I wrote to him:

either or, do or not…anytime there is a side we must take there is stress…No side needs to be taken, this is Zen so it may go by un-clarified…but…no need to choose a side…An old Zen Koan said, Eat your food wash your bowl. Get up, music, eat sleep, live, take out trash, feed dogs…life.. The path with a heart is the only path that is any good (paraphrased from Carlos Castaneda).

Wes Montgomery for your Saturday Jazz Medicine

For your Saturday jazz fix, the one and only Wes Montgomery.  If I am down and listen to this it is not possible to remain there.  Jazz is this thing, like love or zen, that isn’t translatable to words, really.  The feeling that it evokes, when it is good, is just magic

So I am very lucky indeed to be given a chance to learn to play and sing it.  As you watch Wes in this video, he is so happy, relaxed, yet exuding joy.  Maybe he was feeling how lucky he was to be such a great player.  He kinda reminds me of the cat that swallowed the canary, like, if you people only knew how much fun it is to play this music, you would all want to do it too!