In September, street art festival was held in a city where I live, and everything art related has always attracted me, ever since I can remember. And since we had not seen each other for quite some time with my friends, we decided to go see one band together, I cannot recall the name of the band but they sung quite a lot of gypsy songs, at least they said that about the songs.
We formed a little group; sometimes we talked or laughed or just watched the band and listened to the songs. From time to time I wandered off on my own, observing the people and taking photos whenever I spotted something interesting, or whenever something caught my attention. But when I realised that I left my friends I felt bad, as if I needed to be with them because we came together, as if me leaving them was rude and as if I had to engage with them and talk with them. I felt bad for wanting to go around on my own with head floating high among clouds.
I get this feeling often, maybe because I am an introvert. There are times when I feel as if I have to engage with others and this often leaves me drained, and I can only hope that my friends know me and know that when I do not talk it is just me being well me, sitting, observing and listening. At times like this I remember book by Susan Cain called The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, in one passage of the book she talks to university student and the feelings he describes are similar to mine; feeling pressure to talk even if I do not want to or even if I do not have anything sensible to say, feeling the pressure to be something I am not just because people think that I may be angry or sad, or whatever, if I do not talk. Sometimes I feel so relieved when I close the door and block the entire world, not because it is noisy, that is something I like, but because of the pressure to be something that I am not.
And so, after saying goodbye to my friends, I went home on that day feeling happy, because I could see my friends, but at the same time drained and unsatisfied because I could not do what I would normally do if I were on my own – just wandering around from place to place, weaving my way and zigzagging through crowds without knowing where I go or why, letting my feet carry me around.
And I knew I have to return there to experience more and see more of those artists and their art, feel it around me as much as possible. I did return, the same week on Friday. I finally got the chance to feel it, see it, let it surround me and be part of it in my own way.
I looked around and walked aimlessly between stages of different sizes that were set up on square while watching musician preparing for their performance; man was practicing on saxophone and next moment he was tuning his guitar. I also noticed this long wall, which for some reason I had to see up close. I headed there right away; I walked quite quickly because something just screamed at me to be there as quickly as possible. When I came near I realised that the wall was there so that three young men could paint on it using spray paints, and each was creating unique piece of art. I was fascinated but somehow not at all surprised, now I knew why I felt the need to be close to it; it made sense.
When I left the square, after absorbing as much of its atmosphere as I could and inhaling some of the spray paint, that was creating misty clouds in the air and surrounding the sprayers, I strolled through the many streets near it, where other artists and bands and singers were supposed to be and perform. I joined a group of onlookers listening to band called Tabasker and soon enough I began singing, clapping or even dancing, if you can call it like that, into the rhythm of music. The singer invited people to dance and suddenly the whole crowd – no, the whole street- was dancing and singing, creating this blurry image, almost like abstract or impressionistic painting. And I remembered the one lonely guitarist whom I passed and who sat on his little stool and played. Such a contrast to the merry crowd!
I followed a young man with back pack on which he had a sign that said “busker” and who carried what looked like a guitar case. He was rounder and not really tall, maybe he was of the same height as me, and I do not consider myself being tall, and even though he had a beard I still thought that he looked so young. I would even say that under that beard was what I would call a baby face – round and a bit chubby. I trailed after him through street, until he stopped and started to get ready for performance. I stayed there watching as he talked to a woman with a sign “organizer”, whom I recognized to be a singer from the band I went to see with my friends. I stood there with my camera waiting for his performance to start; I was the first member of the audience and at that moment the only one, I stood there leaning against lamp post and waited for his performance. Soon enough, other people gathered around and together we stayed there, anticipating the performance that was to come.
When he started to sing it reminded me of Ed Sheeran and Hozier and many others and, oh God, he had so much talent. I let myself be carried away by his songs and sound of his guitar and did not even realise that I was weaving my way through the crowd of people taking photos of the young man and people in the crowd. I let my feet carry me and it felt like floating on cloud rather than walking, and so I was floating on my cloud among the people.
I smelled the beer and cigarette smoke, listened to the sound of guitars and drums and saxophone, listened to singers sing their songs. I smelled the smell of fresh spray paint, which I cannot even begin to describe maybe because it was like no paint smell I have ever smelled – it was so new to me, and closely watched the painters creating their art. I felt more than ever before… I saw more than ever before…
I let my feet take me where I thought I needed to be and when I got home I realised I spent good six hours walking around without actually knowing where I go or why, even without knowing I actually walk. I spent better part of day aimlessly wandering and letting my feet carry me away , carry me where my heart told me I should go, carry me to place from which I heard a sound or where I spotted a colour.
When I came home I felt an odd mixture of feelings. I felt happy and energetic yet tired at the same time, pleasantly tired but not drained, and my back and neck were hurting because really carrying backpack and camera is no joke at all and I will not even mention the pain in my feet and legs. The pain was a nice way of getting back at me for what my feet and back had to go through just because I decided that I needed and wanted to see something.
I kept thinking about what made all these people want to perform on street before so many people and somehow I could understand it but like I said I am an introvert, my kind does not seek the attention of crowd. To me they were all extroverts, all able to stand in the centre of attention, unfazed by so many people closely watching what they do. But maybe they were not extroverts, at least not all of them, maybe only I think that everyone able to stand before crowd is extrovert, maybe their introvert made way to the extrovert in them every time they did what they truly loved.
I kept going back in my mind and again strolling through streets and looking around and wandering, floating. The first thing I did when I came home was to grab my lap top, open it and connect the camera to it. I stayed up until maybe 2 a.m. editing all the photos I had, and I had a lot, and experiencing the time again, this time from home through my photos.
When I was doing the editing I was thinking about a lot of things and I remembered something I heard somewhere, I really do not remember where but the person said that “people are afraid to be alone”, that “they are now unable to be alone and on their own, constantly connected to world with their phones”, or something along those lines. That day, I was alone and lonely, but at the same time I was not alone and I was not lonely, if that even makes any sense at all. People think that being alone and lonely means that you have to be sad, that you have no one to be with, but that is not true you have yourself.
Maybe, that is what people are afraid of, to be just with themselves and their thoughts, because when you are with someone you pay attention to them and engage with them, when you are alone you can hear only your thoughts and you have no choice but to pay attention to them.