One of the first things I noticed as we were settling into our new neighborhood two summers ago was a curious neighbor. I don’t mean curious in the way that he was curious or nosey. I mean only that I found him curious. I didn’t know what to make of him. He was decidedly hard to miss as I made the left hand turn leading towards our home. There he was. Standing on the sidewalk, playing his guitar and singing, smile broadened across his friendly face. The first time I saw this, I thought it was a little odd but I figured it might be a one off. Perhaps I was missing something. Maybe there was a reason he was out there playing and singing. Maybe he was waiting for someone and planned to greet them with a song. That made sense to me, so I went with that thought.
But as I continued to drive back and forth in the coming weeks as we settled into our new home, I noticed he was out there nearly every time I drove by. I eventually made my peace with the idea that this was a regular occurrence, but I struggled to understand why. My introvert self was deeply confused by this blatant display of extrovert power. What did he want? Was I supposed to acknowledge his playing? Was he playing for himself? Should I wave? He couldn’t wave back. Should I just smile? Nod a visual acknowledgment of his existence? In my 52 years, I’d never encountered a situation like this with a neighbor standing on a residential street singing to no audience in particular. Sometimes on walks with my dog I would see he was out there and panic. What do I do when I walk by? Should I stop? Is that what is polite? My mind could not fathom a situation in which a person would do such a thing. It felt so awkward to me because I didn’t understand why he was doing it and felt confused about what I was meant to do when I saw him. When I found myself driving by him, maybe for the third or fourth time that day, and running out of what I felt were legitimate ways to regard him, I would avert my eyes. And while I was thinking he was this crazy guy out there singing to himself, he probably was thinking, “How many times is she going to drive by today?”
Over the intervening years, I’ve accepted something about Chris. He is out there, in all sorts of weather on all sorts of days, because he is doing what feeds his soul. Who does that? You rarely see a grown adult performing and smiling on the street without a tip jar out for collection. It was a foreign concept to me. I know people who like their jobs, but I don’t often catch them executing their job on a public street. Granted, it’s a bit easier for a singer/songwriter to share the joy of what they do with others than it would be for, say, a teacher. You don’t often see elementary school teachers standing on the street reading aloud from The Giving Tree or whatever. So the more I thought about Chris and his playing and singing, the happier it made me. Here was someone following their damn bliss. It was so brazen. Chris is out there living his best life in plain view of everyone else. Once I got over my introvert conundrum regarding how to approach the visual of this happy individual singing his heart out, I decided he was inspiring, actually. And when I checked out his website, which was shared with me by our neighbors, I decided he was even more inspiring because not only is he a songwriter and performer, but he is also a poet and a published author. He’s a busy guy.
Chris is busy making the world a better, more positive place. It’s no wonder his behavior confused me. You don’t see much of it these days.
Rock on, Chris! We appreciate you.