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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Tell Me What I Want to Hear

"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 hom
e, 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.


Char December 28, 2008 at 5:12 PM  

saw these on flickr! love them - especially the dandelion. I think, like you, that sometime we need to just stop and listen to our own wisdom and read the lessons where we see them. I went photowalking today too.

Liz December 28, 2008 at 5:13 PM  

Very cool. I think of those people as ripples. I often say that life isn't about creating waves. It's about ripples- they might go nowhere or they could wash over someone in need or they could become waves, inspiring others to make great change. Which is why we have to do our best at being our best as much as possible. By being compassionate and open, we create ripples without even realizing it.

So- I'm glad you got to enjoy a ripple!

Red Shoes December 28, 2008 at 5:16 PM  

Wow. What a lovely fellow you met, and what a lovely thing he offered you, and what a lovely thing you took away.


Raph G. Neckmann December 28, 2008 at 5:16 PM  

I like random bits of wisdom best -they are like little 'gifts'. Random compliments too and words of encouragement. Sometimes the most encouraging things are not meant to be, they are uttered matter of factly, but mean a lot. And best of all, whimsical spur of the moment shared humour!

Thank you for a motivating posting.

Cynthia December 28, 2008 at 5:17 PM  

tangobaby, of course you are an artist, and not only of photography and words but of life.
Your vision and the way you process your life experience is inspiring. You are wise and funny, what a great combination. I've also noticed that you are a "giver", someone who supports others with just the right words.
You are the "street artist" to bloggers everywhere. I'm so glad I found your blog.

Brook December 28, 2008 at 5:24 PM  

I can only say that I needed your street artist today and he never showed up. What is it about my artsy ego that craves the strokes and validation of others I wonder?
On a slightly different note my husband and I went to a psychic several years ago in an effort to cope with a personal tragedy. She(are they always women?)was comforting when we needed it most and as you say pulled much of her "wisdom" from us. Sometimes though I think that we are incapable of listening to our own inner voice, that there are times that even if someone merely repeats your words back to you that somehow those words leaving and coming back inside are like a needle and thread, holding us together at the seams.
I must say, however, that those times that someone completely outside of my world is perceptive enough to make a meaningful observation are the ones i prize the most.
Today you are my angel. Thank you.

Ron December 28, 2008 at 6:02 PM  

how nice that you found that it was your own wisdom being sold back to you....

that wise magi has seen many people walking the sidewalks. i think he knows what he is talking about. his fellow artists walk with their heads up, looking for something other than the ordinary, or something wonderful lost in the ordinary. like the little angel above the bar....

i think the magi gave you a gift, and much more of a gift than the psychic could ever have given you....


Yoli December 28, 2008 at 6:13 PM  

You have a natural eye for photography. You cannot teach that in school, you are either born with it or not.

Blue Sky Dreaming December 28, 2008 at 6:44 PM  

I believe we are acting as one another's angels all the time.
I just heard on tv one of the best coffee houses in San Francisco is in the Mission....Ritual Coffee Roasters on Valencia! It looks like a great place to spend a few hours...have you been there?

Christina December 28, 2008 at 7:34 PM  

Okay, you be the dandelion and I will be the shadow of the dandelion. I don't mind at all. ; )


These photographs are fabulous!

Geronimo Rex December 28, 2008 at 7:41 PM  

Your blog is like an ephemeral wash in the desert, or perhaps a mirage, enticing, beautiful and occasionally dangerous.


Teri December 28, 2008 at 8:11 PM  

How special those chance meetings and psychic words of that street artist. I love how you wrote about it. I felt as if I was there with you on the street. And as always, your photos bring the everyday things into a different perspective. That is the artist in you.
Thank you.

Teri and the cats of Furrydance

robinbird December 28, 2008 at 8:49 PM  

don't you just hate the fact that you have to use that moderator? i left this same comment a couple of hours ago and have not gotten the satisfaction of seeing it posted yet...but is that because it got lost in the garbage spam or because i am just impatient?

this is what i wanted to hear today. i knew i needed to hear something but i didn't know what. i needed to hear that sometimes i can inject myself with my own wisdom but that other times, i am unable to access that wisdom without the eagle ear of a velour covered seer. or maybe just an artistic photographer like my friend tb. more than once you have been the echo of my own wisdom when it is trapped without a voice in my narrow mind of fear.

i love this: "You walk like you're looking for something. You walk like a photographer."

thank you artistic photographer, street counselor, velour-sweatsuit-free eagle ear listener...

The Pink Cowboy December 28, 2008 at 9:25 PM  

I like your photos, you have the eye that captures and then releases, that's when photography becomes a revelation. I feel your camera is your inner psychic. Use your own photography as an oracle. Hear what your photos have yo say about your current situation. Thank you for the opportunity to read your wonderful blog.

julochka December 29, 2008 at 2:20 AM  

what a serendipitous encounter. i don't think how long you've owned a camera has anything to do with whether you're a photographer or not. these days, with digital photography, we are the artists of our photos the entire way through the process..from framing to computer. it gives us amazing artistic license, doesn't it and wonderful things come of it...like lives lit up...all around the world when we share what we create. and we don't need tarot cards to tell us that...


chaos in one body December 29, 2008 at 7:23 AM  

i am one of those that gives advice to other all the time. but when it comes to my own life i always feel lost.

but i always have great friends that remind what i should follow.

i love all the pictures today.

my friend has gone to psychic. she says she has not given too much information but i think they are able to read you body language that accounts more than words.

smith kaich jones December 29, 2008 at 9:08 AM  

God, I wish I had an hour to just sit & talk to you about this wonderfulness. Aren't you glad I don't? LOL! Because this is so much of what I believe - that the universe is whispering to us all the time, but sometimes we just don't hear it, or the noises of everyday life drown it out. But it's whispering nonetheless, and somedays it even just talks to us right out loud. In messages on sidewalks, via street artists, dangling angels. This is quite, quite wonderful. A little Chrismas present for you, delivered unwrapped. Who says there isn't a Santa Claus?

:) Debi

paris parfait December 29, 2008 at 10:36 AM  

Deep inside, you already know all these things, Miss Parker. You just need reminding once in a while. xoxox

Mari December 29, 2008 at 11:27 AM  

Now I really want to paint on the pavement, but I will have to choose my words carefully...!

caroompas December 29, 2008 at 11:29 PM  

I stumbled here, out of breath and feeling hopeless. Just leaned for a moment to catch my breath, looked up and saw these words, these pictures. Embraced and refreshed, I stop a moment to thank you, and move on. You are amazing.

Jamie December 30, 2008 at 4:45 PM  

I had a similar experience when I walked into a store and a woman strolled up to me and said, "I'm a photographer too! What do you take pictures of?" How did she know I was a photographer? I barely call myself a photographer. Then I realized she saw the camera hanging from my arm and I knew there was a reason I commited to taking it with me everywhere. Not only am I always prepared to take a picture, but I get to meet fellow artists like her.

Relyn December 31, 2008 at 8:30 PM  

You, a happy message? daily. A friend? absolutely. An angel? for more than just me, I am sure.