People forget who they really are and buy into their own myth.
Come along with me.
Why do I call myself a vagabond?
vagabond, n. 1. A person, usually without a permanent home, who wanders from place to place; nomad. 2. Idle wanderer, without a permanent home or visible means of support; tramp; vagrant. 3. A carefree, worthless or irresponsible person; rogue.
It all began when I was 6 years old. We moved and we kept moving. A sense of home, of permanence never took place in my consciousness. We didn't move all over the country like Irish Travelers. We stayed in more or less the same community, in the Northeast, but the dwelling places kept getting smaller and more squalid. I moved 26 times between the age of 6 and 21. Finally there was a shack, with no central heating and sometimes no heat or hat water. I literally did my homework by the light of a kerosene lamp. We would be officially known these days as poor white trash. My mother, and eventually I, went from job to job, temporary, low paid and disrespected. We were nomads.
In my adult life I kept up the wandering and sometimes I had no visible means of support. As an actor I went from job to job all over the eastern part of the country, literally from Maine to Florida. Often I had nothing but my backpack with a few items of old clothing and my Shakespeare with which I would not part. I never bought myself a piece of furniture except for the chair and desk I'm sitting at now, which I bought from the local Salvation Army for $15.
There were times when I had nothing to eat and no where to sleep. I slept in garages, alleys, on roofs, in basements, abandoned cars, subway stations, backyards and once in Oklahoma in a jail cell thanks to a kindly cop who put me up for the night. God bless him.
When my legs gave out and I couldn't work I stood on crutches in Sheridan Square in NYC and begged.
"A carefree, worthless or irresponsible person." To face the desperate struggles of life with a smile and a sense of humor gives the vivid impression of being "carefree."
To have nothing is to be "worthless" except in the scale of knowledge and compassion for others in the same circumstances. One can be forced into irresponsibility as I was and still maintain a responsibility for one's talents and abilities to give to the world. I was an irresponsible member of society but a very responsible artist.
Am I a tramp? No. Am I a vagrant? Sometimes. Am I a rogue? Yes, but only in my thoughts and ideas.
In my youth I knew people who wanted to live they way they thought I did. They would leave home, grow a beard and hit the road, telling themselves they're living the bohemian life. But they all had a home to go to, a Mom and Pop who would take them in and money in the bank. I know a guy who calls himself an "actor." But he has a regular office job which he will never quit to pursue a career because he's afraid to, he can't bear the insecurity. I knew a man who proudly claimed that he only read great literature, but if you questioned him about Hawthorne, Shakespeare or the Brontes he didn't know anything. If you asked him what he read lately he couldn't come up with an answer. It is very difficult to respect those people.
My vagabondism is not a myth. It took me many years to finally understand and admit it to myself.
Call yourself what you are and get on with life. That's my advice.
Sing a sweet Friday song.