When I was twelve, I decided I was going to be a street performer. It was all I could see for
my future. It was the only thing that made sense to me. Go anywhere. Throw down my hat. Make
enough money for the day.
What could be better?
I would go to Churchill Square in Edmonton and sit there, notebook in hand, writing down
their jokes – shamelessly stealing to build my show. I watched Gazzo Macee do his legendary cups and balls routine over and over again.
I used to help the buskers clean up after their shows and carry their gear into the performer’s tent and help them count out their hats. I remember the joy of counting money with them and being staggered at how much they’d made in a single show.
Eventually, I summoned up the courage to do some street performing. Myself and Niall, the daughter of a university friend of my mother’s in Vancouver who we’d visit in the Summers, would wander down to Robson Street together table and magic gear in hand. Robson Street is one of the busiest streets in Vancouver.
I then learned that street performing wasn’t just about doing magic tricks. In fact there are three real tricks that all street performers must learn:
Getting a crowd to stop.
Getting them to stay.
Getting them to pay.
Each one is its own art form.
One night, I looked up from the middle of a magic trick to find that the three people who’d
stopped to see my show had left. I was performing for nobody. I did a few more successful sets but, in the end, my dream never happened as I’d imagined. But most dreams never do.
However, believe it or not, it turned into my business, Marketing for Hippies, which I built by touring my workshops around Canada. All the weekend workshops were offered on a Pay What You Can basis. No one was turned away due to the lack of funds. It was a beautiful time.
And so, in reading Anthony’s story, I see my own.
I’d never wanted to go to University. I couldn’t see a future for myself in any institution.
Getting a ‘job’ seemed like Hell for me. But how would I sustain myself otherwise?
So many of us have, at some point in our lives, had the deep feeling that we’ve not experienced life yet. That something is ‘off’ but we can’t quite figure out what it is. Most of us have felt the panic of seeing the years pile up on us, burying us alive in a grave of a life we don’t really want.
Joseph Campbell once made the extraordinary point, “People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.”
And so this is Anthony’s encouragement to us: to experience life.
But to experience anything, we have to meet it. And we have all sorts of fears about meeting Life. We’ve been told a lot of lies about this one called Life. Certainly an untrustworthy bloke, they say. Probably lead you astray. Full of impractical ideas that make no rational sense. Bit of a layabout that one. Bit of a dreamer. Not very pragmatic.
Of course, that’s not true. Life is extremely pragmatic. Life works. Nature works. But we sure haven’t been raised to trust that. We’ve been raised to trust in industry and to mistrust nature, to trust the machine but not to trust life. Banished in that is any chance for synchronicities, wild coincidences that defy explanation and serendipities you’ll wonder about forever.
To experience a life like this, we have to be willing to step out of the box that society is slowly burying us in and be willing to do things that make no sense at all.
To get on a plane for two weeks and have it turn into months. To lay down moribund duties and dead relationships and go wander with no particular plan.
Even in our language we’re taught that this is deeply wrong and irresponsible. After all, the word ‘wander’ and ‘errant’ have the same meaning. To ‘err’ is to wander and to wander off the assigned path is wrong. And, on the surface level, that’s true. Nonetheless sometimes we have to break agreements in this world to keep the deeper agreement made with our soul.
Underneath the oldest concrete streets in modern cities, you will find a trail, a trail made by animals, adopted by humans, turned into roads and, eventually, paved. Then other roads were developed, a grid system in many cities that strayed from those original trails – the machine of cities.
Anthony’s book urges us to err, to wander, to lift up our eyes and see where we are called to go, to break the easy habits of maintaining our lifestyle when it’s stopped serving our life. Of course, it will feel impossible to even consider a more adventurous life in the beginning.
Yet everything worthy does.
The first time you juggle it’s nothing but failure, followed by humiliation. But, with some persistence, you learn.
What’s the alternative? Dying with your music still inside you? Compounding regret?
Living a life wondering ‘what if’ instead of wandering and finding out?
Our society is so rigid and controlled with Yet everything worthy does.every inch of our days measured and monitored, scheduled and scripted, full of should’s and supposed to’s. And it’s killing us. All these rules and
regulations… for what? To benefit whom?
I say this: live your days so that you become a delicious meal that feeds life not so that you become fuel for a machine. Live your life in such a way that you give the gifts you came here to give, not so that you become a cog in a corporate engine that couldn’t care less about you or the world.
Sometimes you have to just open the door and go out, not knowing where you’re going, leaving your phone at home so that you’ll have to rely on Life. He’s not so bad.
The rumours about him are, for the most part, not true. Life may not have any interest in making you rich (though he might if it’ll serve the greater good) but he’ll suddenly grab you by the collar and insist you say ‘hello’ to those acquaintances you saw walking down the street where they invite you to a secret party you couldn’t have found on your own.
Life will suggest you do outrageous things that make no sense but that will create the best
memories. Life one time told me to order 160, hand-crafted wooden beer steins for a friend’s wedding. It made no sense. I barely had the money but once Life whispered the idea in my ear it was all I could think of.
Those steins were revealed at the end of a long night of incredibly talented performers – a Georgian choir, Hawaii’an hula performers, Marin Shaw telling a story. I was the closer. I pulled out my table and performed Gazzo Macee’s cups and balls routine ending with the revelation of the mountain of 160 steins, stacked like a pyramid, that appeared out of nowhere.
And that event has become a story. A story which has grown over time. And the guests, who each took a stein with them and maybe gifted them to others, have created even more stories that, from time to time, find their way to me.
There’s a book of Supposed to’s that most of us carry with us like a Bible. From time to time, we need to burn that book to survive the cold and to reignite our souls. There will always be a tension between the need for openness to adventure and shelter. If you’re feeling too sheltered, smothered by the system and by the lifestyle you’ve created, consider opening your front door and going for a walk.
You’ll find Life out there somewhere, sitting on some old stone fence, taking a puff from his fag, looking for trouble and mischief and opportunities to create beauty and memories that will stand a chance at lasting long enough to feed the future generations. You might sit down with him and say, “So, what are we up to tonight?” And just for that one night, I invite you to do whatever he suggests. Just say ‘yes’.
He’s a rogue but his heart is good.
He causes trouble but it’s mostly to the trouble-makers amongst us.
His schemes make no sense to us but they’re guided by an intelligence deeper than we can fathom and they always seem to work out in the end. It’s true that Life doesn’t give a shit about your mortgage or mundane
But neither does Life give a shit about the acorn’s shell once it’s in the ground. Life cares immensely for the oak.
Life isn’t a careless fellow. But he isn’t a fearful one either. He’s something else: careful.
Full of care about the world and the people in it and what really matters. But if you say ‘yes’ to Life beware because Life might look at you from the corner of his eye and say, “I’ve got a project for you if you’re interested,” and hand you the magic glasses.
Whenever you let yourself wander, followed by some intuition you can’t explain, you are saying ‘yes’ to life.
“What’s dangerous is when the universe picks you, you put the magic glasses on, but there
are rules that come with them.
1. You can never take them off.
2. You never see things as they are supposed to be, you see things as they ARE.
3. You cannot force anyone to wear them.” – Dick
This book is a pair of magic glasses.
And so that’s dangerous.
But what’s life without a little danger, hey?
Anthony is someone I’d love to go on an adventure with. He brings such lightness, sincerity, playfulness and a heart that is strong, full, open and clear. His book might reassure you that the glasses are worth wearing. This book isn’t a ‘how to’ book. It’s not full of formulas and aphorisms.
It’s full of something much more useful. It’s full of stories.
The old people say that ‘food makes hunger’. When you don’t eat for a while, you stop
feeling hunger. It’s the presence of a meal that brings back the hunger. This book is food, not a
recipe book. The recipe is up to you.
There’s a time for responsibilities. There’s a time to lay those down.
There’s a time for the mundane. There’s a time for the magical.
There’s a time for shelter. There’s a time for freedom.
So, my friend, what time is it?
– Tad Hargrave, founder of MarketingforHippies.com