It was Labor Day weekend and once again I was doing a show in the park. To say I was feeling a little melancholy was an understatement. Like most artists, I had spent weeks making, then setting up in the rain on Friday night, only to see a very slow sales day, every one having fun but me it seemed. Ah the life of a "carnie" I thought, maybe I should switch careers, to what I thought? Move to Mexico, live out my days on the beach perhaps...
Just then a young man broke my faraway gaze. He was standing in front of my wall of belt buckles, each one displayed in their own little shrine on the wall. What I noticed was that he stood there for what seemed like forever with his back to me just staring. I approached him and he asked if I had made them.
I said yes, feeling a little unsure and shy. I asked if he liked them. He said, "I do, very much. I've been reading each one and to be honest they make me want to cry."
My first thought was, "Wow, they must be that bad!"
Then I looked him deep in his eyes and said, "Then cry."
It was as though someone had given him permission to release all his inhibitions and he begin to cry. I cautiously came to him and just held him. He began to sob uncontrollably.
Eventually, people began to walk into the booth and this random stranger and I recomposed. He apologized, to which I said, "Don't, that was the nicest compliment anyone has ever given me."
I watched him walk out of my "carnie" tent and over to his girlfriend, shaking his head in disbelief. Just then I heard him say to her "I just broke down in this woman's booth after looking at her work."
I realized in that moment everything I worked so hard for suddenly made sense. As humans we just want to be seen, but even more than that we want to share our connection with others. What I thought was just being looked at, was actually seen.
Sure, many come into our proverbial booths of life and look but don't actually see. But on a good day, like that labor day weekend, I couldn't tell who was giving what to whom.
That random stranger broke and burst my heart wide open at the same time.
This Labor Day, no matter what you do for a living, remember that what you do is important. It involves collaboration. Vulnerability and mutual respect. Having faith in our capacity to love is what will get us through. And this labor day when so many are out of work we need to be extra kind to all who we come into contact with and use our light to be a light to someone else.
Thank you all for the opportunity to have a real moment of connection with you, my Sweet Bird Soul Family for over 32 years. The more I work, the less I take for granted and no longer shy away from the chance to connect.
Have a happy and safe labor day, and see you on down the road at the next "carnie" gig! Let's hope it's soon!
Nancy + Team Sweetbird