Sunday, February 15, 2015

What I Learned From Being a Human Statue During Valentine's Week (2015)

What I gave: flowers and chocolate for free
What I received: $30 in two hours, a bullet (yes, a bullet from a gun), a cookie, a bottle of water, really great compliments, questions about purpose.
What I’ve learned: People are really nice sometimes. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that people actually gave me money for standing still and giving out flowers and chocolate. Someone gave me a ten dollar bill. Someone bought a cookie and water and gave it to me.
I have to wonder if the “service” I was providing was worth the money I got.
Maybe I shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth.
If people think what you’re doing is worth it, they’ll let you know.
And if they think what you’re doing is not worth it…you bet your ass they’ll let you know about that also.
Maybe it was enough that I was giving things out for free. Not asking for anything in return. Donations optional.
Too good to be true on a college campus.
So the questions came. What are you doing this for? Is there a meaning to it? We’ve been sitting here staring at you for ten minutes trying to figure out what you’re doing. Is it a social experiment? Performance art?
Sure. Yeah. Let’s go with that.
No, but what is it?
It’s whatever you want it to be.
Sometimes there is no why. There is only because.
Because I want to. Because it’s fun. Because it’s a tradition of mine. Because I think it’s a nice gesture.
Sometimes, it just is.
People would come up, ask me if they should take the flower.
Can we take it?
No, I’m not going to spoon-feed you. Figure it out.
Should I take it?
Look back to their friends for approval.
They nod. Yeah! Take it!
They’re still unsure.
In my head, I’m yelling–
Yes. Just take the flower. Please. Just do it. Take it. Take the fucking flower.
Have a leap of faith and maybe something good will happen.
They reach out, touch the stem, and I let it go.
I make eye contact, smile, bow, say ‘Thank you’. They yelp and giggle.
See? Nothing bad happened. And now you get a flower. For free. How ‘bout that.
Sometimes, taking a leap of faith pays off.
Sometimes, people are nice.
You’re better than anyone here proselytizing. You’re awesome. Thank you. What you’re doing is intense. That’s so cool. Thank you. Can I take a selfie? Take as many bullets as you want. No, thankyou. This honestly made my day. Can I record you?
Toward the end, it got to the point where I would get offended if someone came by me, looked at the chocolate, looked at the flower, and then left.
They didn’t even take a picture.
Ridiculous that I would get offended by it. They were simply not interested.
No reason to take it so personally.
A lot of people don’t like chocolate. Or flowers.
I get off my stool, head to class.
Pass two girls with the flowers that they had taken earlier.
I hope you like them!
Smile.
They smile back.
Thanks!
No, thank you.
This is good for the soul.
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t happy to get money from it.
Yay, bus fare.
But that doesn’t make it any less valid.

Monday, February 9, 2015

the butterfly center: humanity at work

There are those who come in, eyes wide, mouths open,
enchanted by the colours and delighted by the flurry of wings.

They gently spread their hands out, entreating the butterflies to land on them,
carefully treading the cobbled path, terrified they might step on one.

There are those who, just as delighted, ignore the clearly stated rules
and run on the path, climb on the rock, chase and charge through the butterflies,
eager to catch them, hold them,
just to touch them and see if those vibrant colours are real.

In their eagerness, they don’t notice the butterflies
perching under their feet.
[panel of butterfly getting squished]

And there are those who could care less about the fragility
of this tiny world
and tear off the leaves, pick off petals, playing wack-a-mole with the butterflies on the ground,
leaving behind a trail of dislodged wings and crushed bodies.

Uselessly yelling,
DON’T RUN
STAY ON THE PATH
DON’T TOUCH THE BUTTERFLIES
I gently scrape their remains off the pavement
scoop up clumps of mangled bodies,
sticky legs trembling, wings hopelessly fluttering.

I slowly carry them to the Butterfly Morgue
hushing them quietly as they spasm, telling them it will be alright,
apologizing before I lay them down with the others.

After a day of frantically scooping up butterflies before they get crushed,
whispering dozens of ‘rest in peace’ s
and losing my voice
and temper

I sit down,
hands covered with wing dust
and am finally still enough
for the butterflies to land on me.
[panel of self quietly smiling as butterfly lands, while people gather around in awe, and others are still running around in the background]