I am no longer at the intersection wondering how much further I have to go. The cast playing the Edmonton International Street Performer’s Festival needn’t say a word. Time whispers in my ear.
Street theater is physical. The quickest wits, the sharpest reflexes, these gifts on loan from the gods are asking to be returned. Another season in our life arrives, another page to our story is written.
I have wanted to be a street performer for more years of my life than I have wanted anything. I’ve wanted to be my best version. That is enough.
The kind audiences here in Edmonton allow me to slip into my show. Gracefully I am allowed one more sip. Obey the unwritten rules. Go about the work. Be kind to the children, be comfortable in your own skin. Have an unshakable faith that what you have been put on earth to do is exactly what you are doing. You are enough. You are fulfilled.
I lean into the wind. Hold my wife’s hand. Piecing together next steps. I hear it is wise not to keep holding too tight to yesterday, to not look out too far ahead to tomorrow, to spend most of what you can on making good use of today. I’ve two shows. For today that will be enough.
Backroads landed me hard on a saloon in Shelby, Montana. Had my pick of near a dozen gin joints in this Jack Johnson Championship Prizefight site. The joint that promised dancing- she’s the one.
Pawn shop two blocks down had a line at the counter. Most were turning their rifles in for Fourth of July party money. Hand tools were offered for a song. I’ve been shopping for a vest. No luck.
Embarrassing at the border. Immigration welcomed my rolling north to juggle in Edmonton. Officer, female, tattooed, Blackfoot (pretty sure) tongue lashed institutionally by the book, learned the juggling heart of the matter and sent me northbound destination Edmonton International Street Performers Festival.
Ghosts of festivals past roll like thunder in my swirling inner monologue. I’ve got giants of street inside my chest just bursting at the seams. OJ, RJ, B-Fly, Waldo and Woodhead… Big boss Finklini, Hokum, Ned Kelly, Tomas, Murph, Shelster, Soto, Love 22, M.M.Michael, Troutman, K t’ Great, Mildred, Pavarotti, O’Shea, Palmer, Hanson, Kristi, Jeanie, Blackman, Condo, Ruth, Abbey, Felicity, Shakespeare Bros, CB, Angus, Mr. Elliott, Nick Nick, Berky, Rhys, Lee’s both Lee’s, F’ing Ferguson, Alex, Dewey and Gazzo…
Running with the road dogs while they go nipping at my heels.
Deeper into the journey now. After Fort Collins, Colorado’s leafy college town coddling I am back in the sprawling lost world we know as Central Wyoming.
Hot Springs State Park is set against a northern flowing Big Horn River. Half the town’s businesses are in dire circumstances the rest boarded up.
You come to Thermopolis to avoid the bumper to bumper buffalo watching quagmire.
Still as far as rural Thermopolis goes the idea of leaders in Cheyenne or Washington nurturing its citizens here is apparently not on the agenda.
It is this gutted, forgotten, exploited and neglected kind of isolated (super far from anywhere) community we need to help. Coal mining, natural gas exploration and logging operators need not apply. This whole top down Wall Street siphon off the profits leave the locals with crap wages and post industrial cleanup bills won’t cut it.
Best as I can tell they do have a pretty good hospital and health clinic. Highway in and out of town is in good shape. Probably too geologically interesting but not quite enough trees for most of the accidental tourists that unwittingly land here.
Nearby Northern Wyoming Shoshoni Tribal Lands play into the economic direction made visible here. Of course capitalism, democracy and the deal cut with the Shoshoni might have more than some fraction of the whole reason for why here has been so overlooked..
Bolt of Thunder water slide is an attraction.I took my chances last night and lived to tell, not before seeing my life flashing before my eyes just prior to my parachute popping and slowing me down after one terrific 30-40 second corkscrewing hot springing gravity induced flight of this able bodied bumble-he.
Playing the least visited towns allows for escaping the travel services industry. Instead of finding more of the same; Marriott, Hertz, Southwest Airlines and Denny’s there is this other original entrepreneurial economy to be relished.
Globalization, climate change, digital technology and economic inequality account for the lion’s share of the changes to sweep across the globe since I first began touring.
Fort Collins, Colorado suffers from a dearth of good paying jobs and the blight of unaffordable housing.
In Emeryville, California there are tent cities filled to the brim, hundreds and hundreds of displaced citizens living without shelter. Inequality expresses its unnecessary and unequal disbursement of productivity and profit to a smaller sliver of our most affluent citizens. This is entirely preventable.
California and New York stepping up in the fight against the release of greenhouse gases gives us all hope. Regenerative farming practices may lock into our soil vast amounts of heat trapping carbon. The development of energy storage systems- pumped hydro, thermal heat storage and solar powered hydrogen making systems all provide humanity with the tools we need to fend off disaster.
Multigenerational entertainment in some fraction of some way advocates for the hopes and dreams of our children, the sage entertainer attempts to give voice to responsibility. Our heart’s desires touch. Laughter and applause can be purposeful.
You know things you can’t bring yourself to even imagine like an uncontrollable climate emergency that might threaten the world’s civilization. The stakes are that high, but not so dire we cease to laugh, no longer make our best efforts. We can do this with the lightest most mighty touch.
Like the time of your life, there is no other better moment to make the most of than this one moment we have all been given.