Do not judge a book by it’s cover. We’ve all heard that statement but in an increasingly fast pace instant gratification society it seems that as everything accelerates in speed and amount, our quality of attention is also lessening. How can we not judge a book by its cover if we don’t even stop to read it? Now do the math we social media… sometimes there aren’t even any pages! Just one post with a sentence or two. Another edited post with three filters and an emoji. How then do we recognize the real value of real people when all we’re seeing are images? I needed a perspective shift.
Walking the streets of Buenos Aires, I looked around and tried to take this busy and historical city in. I saw all the tourist sites like “la Boca” where Tango was invented, the masterful Recoleta cemetery and the amazing street markets like San Telmo where you can find all kinds of hand made leather goods and trinkets to appease expectant family members back home (I have three sisters and a Mom). As I walked from one neighborhood to another my train of thought was interrupted by an incredibly raspy voice mixing with an acoustic guitar melody, it called me so I went. Sitting on a street corner were to guys jamming out, singing blues. They looked too young to be homeless, but that’s where my mind went initially. I mean, they had an open guitar case with a few coins and bills inside laying in front of them and they were playing for mostly unimpressed pedestrians scuttling by. No one seems to notice, yet their performance was amazing. I asked permission to film through basic signs as to not interrupt and they acknowledged and continued. They finished the song and something moved me. I was about to keep going when something inside me prompted me to chat with them. What were their stories? Why were they playing on the street? Why weren’t they touring the world? We chatted for a bit and thanked them for being on camera and I gave them a fist pump. I was about to proceed along my own path when one of them said to me: “hey if you’re not busy you can come to hear us play at a jazz club tonight.” Again, my initial gut reaction was to nod and then not show up. After all, these were strangers that were potentially homeless playing in the streets. I thanked them and proceeded along my way.
The interesting thing about perspective is that we all begin with a certain “default” view on life. Meaning, whatever life experience we’ve had and our current emotional state, based on how we process that information through our personal prism will dictate the way we see any given situation. Now, this situation isn’t necessarily the truth and quite often it is not. Assumption is a very slippery slope, especially in today’s social media age. Fortunately, the wonderful thing about perspective is that it can shift quite quickly if we simply choose and make an active effort to see a situation, person and belief from another angle or mindset. Walking around the swanky Palermo neighborhood, I pondered why I was not choosing to accept their invitation. I began to see my own bias and the superficial flaw in my own shallow perspective. I was making assumptions and judgements on these super talented guys just because of how they looked and where they were performing instead of taking the time who they were as individuals and make a real human connection. I decided that if we only stick to what we know, we’re never going to grow and I made up my mind to go see them play in the evening.
Juan and Carlos are not homeless, far from it. I realized this once I went into the Jazz club and shared a beer with them. They were surprised to see me there, as was I. Perhaps changing my own perspective and showing up was helping them to also change theirs! We became friends and they told me how they played in that busy street because they loved sharing their gift with people: it was their way of giving back. They were true artists and a true artist will always wants to share their gift. Cooks love to create a beautiful meal to be enjoyed, dancers love to use their agility to express through music, writers love to pen sentences to move the reader and true musicians want their music to be heard… even if only by busy pedestrians. They gave freely of their gift and they transformed this busy pedestrian into a friend. I guess I relate to them because I love when people take the time to see our show and share their journeys with us.
The power of perspective is that we have a God-given ability to change the way we see the world and the people inside of it. When we choose to see the best in people and believe the best of people, suddenly we’ll become much better people ourselves. I’m so grateful for my new friends in Argentina for teaching me once and for all that we cannot judge a book by its cover, a person by their Instagram posts, followers and someone’s character without truly taking the time to know them. Every human has layers and depth to them. We all have a story to tell. I hope to one day be able to hear yours and in the meantime, I’m so grateful that by reading these pages… you’re already a part of mine. Gracias!