That night after work, I was waiting for my train at the Grand Central Terminal station in New York. A terrorist could have been next to me, plotting an attack, and I would not have noticed it because of how delusional and tired I was. As I was struggling to keep my eyelids open, I was immediately awakened by a melody that sounded like the beginning of “My Heart Will Go On.”
Where was it coming from?
I looked to my left and did not see anyone playing any musical instruments. Hoping to find the answer through the direction of other passenger’s gazes, I looked at them. But, I soon realized that they were all looking in the same direction-the direction of where the train would arrive.
I gulped my coffee, hoping that it would give me better vision, and looked around again to see if I could find out where this musician was.
The music was becoming louder and stronger. I felt compelled to find this musician. Was it because I was reminded of the movie “The Titanic” or because something powerful was embedded in the sound of the music, like the smell of opium to a drug addict?
As I walked towards my right, the music became louder. About ten feet from me, I saw a group of people sitting in the passenger seats. I didn’t see anyone playing any musical instruments.
Then, I saw that a man was pointing his cellphone at something and recording it. He was recording the musician.
I found him.
The musician was sitting with the passengers. He blended in with them because he wasn’t using a big musical instrument so it was not apparent that he was playing an instrument. He wasn’t even standing so he just looked like someone who was waiting for the train.
The musician is an Asian male in his late 50s, who is a Leo and enjoys long walks on the beach. His eyes were closed as he played the music. A terrorist could have also plotted an attack right next to him and he wouldn’t have known.
He and I should have definitely considered applying for a position with the National Counterterrorism Center.
Mr. Musician must have been a great performer in his own country (I know that he wasn’t born in the U.S.A. because Donald Trump required that he place his birth certificate in front of his donation box, which indicated that he was born in China). However, due to language and other barriers (again because his birth certificate also indicated he came to U.S.A. yesterday) he no longer has any opportunities to perform at venues other than the subway stations.
The passenger was still videotaping Mr. Musician’s performance with his cellphone. Mr. Musician’s eyes were still closed, unaware or didn’t care about anything or anyone around him. As I walked closer to him, I saw that his donation box had a sign above it. The words on the sign were written in a .0005mm-felt pen and written in such a faint color of black that it was hard to tell that they were the words “THANK YOU.”
The box had a few pennies, nickels, and one quarter.
Are these his earnings for the entire day? Or did he start his “gig” an hour ago? Or did he empty the earnings in his donation box and left some change in there so people could pity him and have an incentive to donate?
My intuition told me that these change, which could barely allow him to buy something on the McDonald’s dollar menu, were really his earnings for the day. The way he indulged in playing the piece made me believe that he wasn’t playing the instrument to make money, he was playing it because he enjoyed doing so. I don’t know if his enjoyment can allow him to live comfortably nor do I know if they allow him to pay his bills on time.
A while back, my acting teacher told us that, “Ninety-seven percent of the people in the performing arts business quit within three years.” I immediately left the classroom to make a phone call to Bill Gates, asking him to hook me up with one of his rich friends so I can quit this business.
I had a strong feeling that Mr. Musician was not one of the people who quit the performing arts business after three years. Maybe it’s because of the way he indulges in his music, maybe it’s the way he could care less about how much money he received for his performances, or maybe it’s how his music sounds-powerful yet in a helpless way.
Actors, musicians, singers, writers, dancers and just all of the people in the performing arts industry are so brave. They have such great persistence. The statistics are hard and cold. Out of 100 people, 97 of them will quit within three years. How do the few keep going when they don’t even know how they are going to pay next month’s rent? Can they have kids? Can they afford to feed and raise another human being before their eggs or sperms start deteriorating? What makes them not want to quit and just switch industries?
The answers to these questions may differ from performer to performer. But whatever their answers are, their persistence is admirable.
Of course, none of these financially related problems would exist if they are already filthy rich or their family is filthy rich or their significant other is filthy rich (like myself with the help of Mr. Gates).
I wish I could have stayed a little longer to listen to Mr. Musician’s performance, maybe we could have even went to McDonald’s together. I would have loaned him 55 cents so he could order something from the dollar menu. Then I’d get my rich boyfriend’s driver to pick me up, lay on my bed made from diamonds and think about the unchallenging, boring life I would have had I passed away that night.