As a child and throughout my teens I looked up to iconic heroes of mystery, freedom and self-dependents. The ability to live life as your choice. Some of these characters are fictional, others are historically very real.
Take cowboys for example The gallant free-range ones who lived in the saddle and slept under the stars. Worked hard and played hard, living rough and ready for adventure at any given time.
Perhaps a romantic notion of my younger self. However, I quickly grew to realise that they were an extinct breed. Perhaps the closest you would come to its modern-day equivalent is a biker. So, of course, it made sense that as a child I thought that when I grow up, I wanted to become a hell’s angel.
Then there are the Native American Indians, the thought of tipis and living off the land. Being a brave warrior and a defender of the noble ways, I was totally hooked. The whole path of being one with the great spirit, land and freedom filled me with awe.
As a child, my all-time favourite TV series was Kung Fu. A Shaolin student monk named Grasshopper grew up in a monastery. His rite of passage was not just scorching his wrists by branding them with dragons on the side of a cauldron that was full of malting lava.
He carried this out of the sacred Shaolin monastery at which point he began his global quest of exploring the world. I enjoyed watching scenes of him, travelling across sand dunes, mountains, oceans, lakes. Working as he went, defending freedom and injustice if it came across his path.
Of course, if he was really unfairly provoked, which turned out to be every episode, he would sort out all the folk’s problems with a good old roundhouse kick or two with a few wise words.
My favourite scenes are when he had flashbacks to the days when he was with his master, mentor back in the monastery. His master and mentor taught him many noble life skills and shared wise words and parallels.
Then you have the gipsies and travellers, who were classically travelling merchants, mystics, storytellers and entertainers. Often misunderstood but nevertheless an alternative life in its own right.
They were often pressured to settle down or move on. Now in the modern-day, we see the interest in van life and weekend warriors rising. The dream of great escape and alternative lifestyles still exists.
That leaves me with the last iconic heroes of my childhood and that’s hippies. I’m happy to admit to my teenage attraction to stereotyped hippy chicks. Once I get past that I see far a greater depth of embracing a subcultural and rejecting conventional values while taking mind-altering substances.
Yet the modern-day version of the hippy is in one sense a little more conventional with drug-free practices doing such things as yoga, drum circles and connecting deeply to mother earth.
So, with my childhood heroes in mind, guess how I turned out?
A worldwide street performing magician, who loves van life with his travelling trade. There is no greater pleasure than a good old long road trip. I practised Kung-Fu for 12 yrs. I am often referred to as a traveller or if meant as an insult a gipsy. Ironically I see both as a huge compliment.
For over 30 years I was a street performing magician. In my mind, I was most fortunate to be born at the time I was as I learned the old ways of busking. The days before regulations came in that started small – such things as a code of practice.
The old school of buskers wanted all of the above qualities of my superheroes lives with perhaps with or without the mind-altering substances or evictions notices travellers may get.
But what I think we all had in common was wanting the freedom to travel, work and take life by the horns. Being a true modern-day cowboy, or a travelling monk, we all develop our own aviators and choose the life we live.
You see – once we were buskers, the gallant free-range ones on the heap piles of history. My era has passed and I no longer can silently protest instead I am putting it into words unless the old ways of busking are lost forever.
This is not to say that modern-day street performing and busking is over but it has changed. From amp wars, permits, regulations and more and more restrictions on free movement. The modern-day busker has become more reliant on festivals or established pitches.
Rather than discovering new pitches, travelling like buskers and living on the road. So it’s become something else or rather it’s lost something of creating a subcultural and rejecting conventional values. Now modern-day street performers have to toe the line or they won’t get the slot. We all have to toe the line now.
However the old School of buskers are like watchtowers of the street, they have a heightened sense of perception and they can see around corners. They have superpowers of perception and could advise any city center management on how to do their job properly.
They are like modern-day town criers who instead of representing the mayor they represent the people. They are a joy to behold because they allow people to think and see alternatively even if it’s just for a moment.
So in my mind when I look at my childhood list of superheroes, the cowboy, the biker, the Indian, the monk, the gipsy, the traveller, the hippy and the old school street performer, all of these are the old Busking God’s. All of which created a subcultural while rejecting conventional values and lifestyles.
The Busking Gods inspire, challenge mindsets, they are non conformist and their passion knows no boundaries.
Please do feel free to add your busking god below, let me know your thoughts, insights perhaps stories.
Follow your inspirations.
By Mario Morris
Magician, Storyteller, alternative life coach, founder of the School of Busking.
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