"The best of seers is he who guesses well." ~ Euripides
"You're one of those artistic photographers, aren't you?" the young street artist asked me today as he was leaning his painted canvases against a cement wall. He was dressed in baggy jeans, a flannel shirt and his hair was sticking out around his head like a faint afro halo.
He had a friendly smile, and his question sounded more of a statement.
"I guess you can say that," I answered, feeling shy. I have gone through various incarnations since getting my hands on this camera in April. It's still wierd to think I might be considered to be a photographer in any way. I have been taking photos for less than a year. I don't have a fancy camera. I haven't taken a photography class. I don't know what I am doing.
Not really qualifications for someone to be called a photographer, let alone an artistic one.
But his question made me stop in my tracks. I tried to own my answer: I guess you can say that.
It also made me wonder, what is it about receiving information from a strange or unexpected place that can hold sway over the person who receives it? I mean, how did this guy know to say that to me? I was not taking photos. I was just walking down the street. He went on to explain himself without my asking, perhaps hearing the hesitation in my voice: "You walk like you're looking for something. You walk like a photographer."
Wow. Thank you, mystery street artist. I really needed to hear that.
Several years ago, I was going through a really really tough time, and I needed some cosmic answers STAT. I went to a psychic who came highly recommended, a little Italian woman who wore velour sweatsuits and had dark, short curly hair and wore bifocals. She was bubbly and at the same time, very matter of fact. At the end of the hour, I was both soothed and amazed.
She read her Tarot cards like she was reading the Sunday paper to me, and told me all I needed to know. I listened to the tape she gave me over and over again, when I needed to boost my resolve and feel brave. Her information helped me when I thought I couldn't get help anywhere else. I was amazed by her perceptive powers.
Years later, I went to see the psychic again. This time, I was more curious, and much more skeptical. I had some questions, but they were not so burning that I didn't feel they were unanswerable. I think I just wanted to compare her advice to my inner voice.
This time, the reading was different. It was boring. I didn't think it did much for me at all, except to take $100 out of my checking account and put it in hers. When I got home, I listened to both of my tapes, the old one and the new one. Some of her advice was identical, verbatim stock phrases, delivered in vague terms. In the first tape, I heard myself giving her information, which then became the wisdom she offered me.
I had never noticed that before. That I had been the one talking. All this time I thought she was just offering unsolicited wisdom. But I had been supplying the clues, with my tears, the whole time. No wonder she knew what to say.
I didn't feel taken advantage of. It just made me realize that next time I could give myself an injection of my own wisdom and save myself a Benjamin.
I really enjoyed my little gift of unanticipated street wisdom today from that random fellow, partly because I did not say a word to him first, and because it was unsolicited. But it still gave me something I needed to hear today.
It made me hope that I give out little bits of random, helpful wisdom to others in need once in a while.
Like I'm a hidden angel hanging out somewhere unexpected, like over the doorway of a bar. Like this little guy.
Or that I'm a friend, even if you can't see me.
Or that somehow, some day, you might paint this on the sidewalk (even if it's just a sidewalk in your mind).
Or that I might paint this on my own sidewalk.
All photos taken today in the Mission.
Thanks, street artist angel.