Friday, July 24, 2009

Facing Facts 7/24/09

People forget who they really are and buy into their own myth.

Siobhan Fahey
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.
(Random House/Webster)

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.


Bonnie Bonsai said...

Dear DB,

Life maybe, maybe harsh sounding to you but don't forget anyone of us from any part of the world can be the same like you or even worse and much worst than you.

For years, looking back, I realized what a vagabond, nomadic and gypsy life we lived. We moved from place to place, we packed now and fly later (in packed passengers buses though driven by a driver with no respect to the safety of the passengers.

Ah this blog stirs up memories of hard life but for some reason, I live with that memory and I can only amuse myself how incredible it was, the past.

I have some share of pains and raptures in my youth, my adult life, my parenthood, my solitude but it's still a memory. I still cherish those memories.

I'd experience studying with the help of a flickering light from a kerosene lamp sometimes from a candle.

Ah ... the past, I still feel good reminiscing them even if they were hard days....I must not discount there were good blessed times too.

All facets of life we lived except perhaps sleeping on the roadside. But living in a haunted house, yes! It was a chilling memory.

So I can definitely relate to your story. Keep writing and tell us more.

Why I am the way I am? I just happen to have a zest for life. A simple unpretentious life, a contented life.

I may not have grown in a perfect family, but yes, I had the love and support of my parents though not 100%. There was even a point I liken our family into the Lost Tribe of Jacob.

So welcome to my old world. You are not alone!

Meanwhile, cheer up! I laugh away my misery in life. And Thank God, I am still here. So are YOU!

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

We all need to accept who we are, and then be all that we can be :o)

miss alaineus said...

(throws snaps)

this is the stuff adventures are made of!