Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A Very Special and Intense Day

Here's a shot I took with my camera phone in the quiet before storm at my gig this morning at the Los Angeles Music Center. The event is called the Very Special Arts Festival. As the name implies, it is a very special and equally intense day with literally thousands of kids gathered together, all with special needs. I'd image that nearly every possible challenge a child can face, from emotional to physical, is represented by the dozens.

It is a day that comes once a year and always gets under my skin for a couple of reasons.

For starters it takes me back in time. I once was a mime, yeah that's right I said mime. It is a long story, for another day, but the bottom line is takes me back, doing something I used to do. I used to teach kids the art of mime. I worked with kids who were both highly gifted and kids who were autistic. I was at my best working with the toughest cases. So the bottom line is, it takes me back.

Next and most complex, it marks the yearly reunion with my main artistic mentor. A brilliant and eccentric artist whose life in SoHo during the 70's and 80's is the stuff of novels. He is also a "Valley Dude."

One time he tried to tell me: "People think creativity springs from limitless choices. No." He said, "Creativity comes from working under extreme limitations." At first I thought he was crazy, but now I know that I was the crazy person.

I only have to think of the sightless girl, who must imagine the world with her hands and ears.

Lastly, it's the kids themselves. On this very special day, they are surrounded by people who don't judge them on their appearance, at least not outwardly. It is one of those days, that you can't show any shock at someones face or body, no matter what you see. Today, one kid's face hit me right in my core. The courage he showed was truly life affirming.

At the gig we mostly create the illusion that we are robots. Many of the kids want to shake our hands to see if we are real. But mostly it seems, they just want shake the hand of someone who isn't afraid to shake their hand.

A very special and intense day.

1 comment:

Amanda said...

i've worked very closely with troubled teenage girls in a group home. i've seen horrible cases of abuse, neglect, and self harm. i've seen kids at their worst moments, and i've been called names i wouldn't ever repeat. but i've also seen amazing successes - girls labeled as 'failures' graduating high school, going on to college, kids holding jobs, healing and stabilizing and turning into beautiful young women. being able to touch a life is an amazing gift - i firmly believe that we are all responsible for changing the world. doing it one kid at a time is a great place to start.
right on, man. keep making this world a brighter place.