Tag Archives: death

A Bit More Exposed.

So … I did it. Then I wrote about it and people responded with enthusiasm and compliments. I felt empowered and grateful and like I’d won some small victory over my demons.

Then … my blog was linked by Amanda Palmer and things went crazy. Overnight I got dozens of emails, messages … all thanking me for taking this “Giant Step”. Folks: I’m humbled. I did this bit for my inner voices and for the 9 people who showed up. I asked for the pictures to be taken so that I could go back and read what people actually wrote. I was thinking of individuals … and, selfishly, myself. i wanted to overcome.

What I got in return was an outpouring of gratitude and love like I’ve never, EVER experienced.

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“I can hear your heart.”

Let me share one story. Not the most gut wrenching of what I received, but powerful and amazing.

October 12 was my daughter’s wedding. We had a big, backyard, down home celebration with family and friends for the reception. Late into the evening I was approached by one of our family’s friends. A young man I had known for years. He asked if we could speak privately and we moved into a quiet place in the garden.

He explained to me that when he was younger he had been involved in a traffic accident that left his chest (in his words) ‘horrifically scarred’. He lived with it in some discomfort … and then he showed his scars to his (then) fiance. Her reaction was less than supportive. She was repulsed and disgusted. Worse, she told and showed him that she was repulsed and disgusted. The scars she laid on him were far deeper than the physical scars he bore.

In time, that relationship came to a close … but he wore those feelings for many years. He has a new love now – and, he told me – he never, ever took his shirt off in front of her. Not for any reason.

Because of Amanda’s re-posting, he saw my words and my pictures. He read and re-read. He cried … and he called his girlfriend to come to him immediately. They viewed the blog together … and he took his shirt off. Such a simple action that we do without thought everyday, but to him, to HER … it was a mountain climbed.

He told me in tears that her reaction was very different. She responded with love. With caring. She embraced him and loved every bit. They showered together. For the first time in his life – he knew the true love and intimacy he didn’t know he was missing.

By this time his girlfriend had joined us and she tearfully hugged me and thanked me … my words and actions changed their lives. This story is just one of many that keep coming in to me.

Which brings me to:

How do I respond to such things? “You’re welcome” seems so trite and bland, given what’s happening. Amanda, if you’re listening: How do I deal with these emotions coming to me? What do i say? I’m so humbled by this.

Meantime … to do it again? No publicity, no talking about it afterward? Just let it happen for the people in attendance?

I continue to walk my path, and I appreciate You walking with me through the dark and light parts.

The original article may be read here: Exposed.

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Exposed

I had this idea. I couldn’t imagine how it might turn out, what the reactions would be. Would there be fallout? How might it affect my ‘career’?

Recently I was approached by another well meaning friend about how I could make more money doing what I do. This happens about once a week. Now … of course I need to provide and support my responsibilities and I am driven to help those in need … money helps with those needs, but it isn’t everything.

I perform because I have to perform. I walk in faith, I live in faith. Yes, I market and brand myself, but I’ve come to find that the act of just working … doing the best possible show I can present … provides rewards, both tangible and personal. Once I recognized that, my life became considerably easier and substantially more difficult. Contradiction? Welcome to showbiz.

I came up with this plan. A show. A show that could become legend. Featuring myself and two people I care about, both in person and in vision, and an idea I got from Amanda F. Palmer. The show must be ‘pay what you want’ and it must be presented in as personal and as intimate as possible. Sunday, September 21st at UpStage it all came together.

Avalon Rose opened with her recital/ unique rendition of “Oh the Places You’ll Go”. Whimsical yet powerful: Dreams and Dragonflies, Ambition and Failure. She says it like she means it … because she does.
Following this, 35 minutes of me … doing humor, soap boxing just a little ..earning my right to be heard. Following this was a 7 minute intermission. (Play Marillion’s “Man of a Thousand Faces”)

Megan Sky opened act two with a heartfelt speech on vision, acceptance and loving. All wrapped up in Art. I hope she develops this further, or even publishes. Believe me, it’s moving, surprising and incredible.
Following this was Hannibal’s “LIAR!” show. 45 minutes of storytelling comedy magic that digs deep into my soul.

And then … I dug deeper. At the end of “LIAR!” I announced there would be a third act following a five minute break. (Play Tom Waits’ “New Coat of Paint”)
When I returned … I spoke of the harsh things our brain like to tell us. How we’ve been negatively conditioned to see ourselves as less than normal … less than loved. I told of my two biggest hangups or fears: My body image and my fear of trust.
I am disgusted by what I see in the mirror. I am shamed by the way people look at me in public and unabashedly say hurtful things … this of course leads me to my lack of trust in others. I get panicky in crowds, just can’t handle it. In front of a large group? No problem. In among them? Anxious. Paralyzingly so.

I said I wanted to deal with my two big hangups at once, and perhaps help someone  with their own. “Think of something about yourself that you are ashamed of. Some burden you carry. Some evil your brain constantly whispers to you, causing you pain.” I said.
Then … I took off all my clothes. All but my skivvies (in order to remain legal in NC). I passed out markers and invited the audience to come up on stage and write on me. Their burdens, their thoughts … whatever. “If it hurts you, write it on me and leave it with me for a little while. I can’t take it away forever, but I give you permission to lay it down for a time.” I cued the song “Neverland” by Marillion, closed my eyes and raised my arms.

The results were moving, loving and empowering. I am still speechless to describe how beautiful the moment was.
The photographs below tell part of the story. The brilliance of Austin Caine caught my vision and brings it to you. Here.

From my vision through the eyes, lens and heart of Austin Caine … This is who I AM.

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Click the link below to view the entire gallery. Feel free to share the images as you see fit.
http://photos.austincaine.com/Nightlife/UpStage/The-Full-Hannibal/

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Sunday Father

BobI love the man, and I still rely on his strength.

I saw him only on weekends during my formative years. The days were short, and filled with his desperation of trying to form me into a man. Trying to make some kind of a connection.

Once I forgot some school books and had to run back to his apartment to retrieve them. He was sitting in his kitchen crying like his heart was splintering. Holding a picture of me. I slipped back out before he could notice me there.

I saw him tonight while busking uptown, then realized it was my own reflection in a store window.

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Sell. Be.

This took a long time to get from my head to my hands. Sorry gang.

It took me a long time to find joy in my work. On stage, in the brief time I get to spend there, I found bliss in the journey. More often than not, I have to ‘sell’ myself to the audience: They come with expectations of what this ‘magic show’ is going to be, largely due to the widespread acceptance of mediocrity among my magic brethren. So I sell. I pull out all the stops and give my everything to my audience, baring my soul and making my case. In the past few years, I’ve learned (and it’s been a slow process) to find happiness in the off stage time, too. The planning, the rehearsing … the editing and execution that must be done are all part of the road. I’m traveling it, and I’m enjoying the trip.

There’s a guy I know. Over the years we have become friends, though I only see him once a year. The internet and Facebook have brought us closer, but still … nothing like good old fashioned face to face. He’s an artist, working with clay and creating uniqueness out of dirt. I’m a fan of his (and his family’s) craft, as much as they are fans of mine. He does not settle for ‘good enough’, mediocrity does not exist in his hands. He has battled dragons and emerged victorious. We create ‘something out of nothing’, and he has enriched my life. Not to long ago, his path turned dark: he was diagnosed with cancer. The bad kind that comes with a timeline. The kind that took my father.

I’ve been grinding my face into the ground in prayer for him and his kin. I ask and plead, cry and curse at God on his behalf. My ‘invisible friend in the sky’ listens, and chides me for my foolishness. If the soul is eternal, then this is just a short time suffering, and gold must be forged, right? Still … Fuck You, Cancer. This is my friend. Hasn’t your appetite been sated?

We recently reunited in the usual shady grove that hosts my show once a year. He came and sat through four performances, at least. Right up front. He was thinner, and perhaps slower, but his strength and soul were evident. He inspired me, and I gave some of the best I had on that beautiful sunny day. I said some things that had to come from God, because I didn’t recognize the words coming from my mouth. I may have gotten ‘preachy’, but the crowd seemed to understand and lifted me up.

At the end of the day, we had a (too short) conversation. He told me that he liked what I had brought, and it had inspired him to get back to his art. “I just want to get my hands back in the mud.” he said. That sentence has echoed in my head every day since. The simple act of doing what you were born to do, to just … BE who it is you are supposed to BE. This is the essence of this short span we have. Life is a gift, one among many. Stop getting caught up in the petty stuff that in the end has no meaning whatsoever. Sell yourself on the idea that you have something to give, and you should be giving it.

Sell. Be.

We need you.

Oh, and forgive my harsh language. I simply can’t find a better way to express it.
Fuck you, Cancer.

Hey, Mudslinger! I love you, Man.

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Fragile

We are such fragile creatures. Take time right now to let your family and friends know exactly how much you love them. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to say “I love” to everyone you care about.

Take a chance and tell a stranger. Do something really nice for someone you don’t like very much. Anonymously.

A friend pointed out that a lot of my music is somewhat dark … So this week I’m committing to only listening to upbeat, inspirational tunes. Suggestions?

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