My childhood friend Monica and I undertook a one hour train ride to visit a location called Tigre just 18 kilometers from downtown Buenos Aires. When we boarded the train, every seat was taken so we settled on standing in a general open area. At one of the stops a young man came in, and proceeded to play his small guitarlike instrument while playing Peruvian flute at the same time.
His music was very folkloric and reminiscent of documentaries of llamas climbing the cliffs of Machu Picchu or old women weaving or knitting colorful hats. After his first song, passengers applauded and smiled at him. He continued entertaining us and after a few more songs he walked around presenting his bag for donations. Almost everyone gave him some money.
As we rode during his songs, I thought to myself how he managed to take an opportunity and make it work for himself. One could tell he was of lesser fortune. His clothes were worn, his instrument was taped and well used. His hair was disheveled and his eyes seemed to show a hard past. He smiled as people gave his money.
I thought about how he managed to turn a talent into something he could share while earning money. Instead of just sitting on a street corner and begging for coins, he used what he had and offered to entertain people in exchange for a few coins. To me, this is the big difference between those I see asking for money and those who try to make the best of a situation.
Granted not everyone can play music, or sing or dance… (yes, the tango dancers of Thursday did pass the fedora) but I want to believe that everyone has something to offer. I once saw an older man reading poetry on a street corner. His voice was perfect and he read with such enthusiasm and with a slight Shakespearian style. After each poem he would look around and smile at those standing around. Most donated some coins, bills and returned the smile.
I expect there is always something we can share with people. An exchange seems to me to be a fair thing when people want something from others. In my opinion people who take a challenging situation and somehow are able to make the best of it deserve more than an applaud – they deserve admiration and respect.
PS – His music was very enlightening and entertaining. I wish I had a better picture of him but this is what I can share with you now.