The first and last time I’d seen the guy—seated in a wheelchair, playing an electric guitar through a battery-powered amp, and playing it very, very well by the way—was nine months ago. He was in a stone courtyard at the corner of Webster and 21st in downtown Oakland, and I passed him on my way to BART on the very morning before heading off to participate in a quarterly gathering of kindred spirits aligned in self-exploration and personal development.
It was truly an illustrative and rich and indelible moment: in a funk of stuckness, unsure of my footing, of my place, and still locked in a tired cycle of self-doubt and self-criticism—but, at least, having achieved awareness of this dynamic as an unconstructive pattern into which I’d long been investing my energy—I regarded this wonderfully talented individual as, among other things, a basis for an engrained, patterned, fresh round of self-pummeling:
So what’s YOUR excuse? This guy’s in a wheelchair fer chrissake, and he’s out there making art.
I’d immediately become of the aware that I was doing a number on myself, and reacted in the most predictable, unfortunately instinctual way:
Damn it, why the hell are you beating up on yourself, dumbass?
After a heavy sigh, I can only imagine the odd, 7am sidewalk figure I cut then and there to the handful of passersby, as I burst into laughter.
So, needless to say, it absolutely took my breath out—on my way to BART, at the corner of Webster and 21st, on the morning of this quarterly gathering, at the one-year mark of my participation it just so happens—to once again encounter this wheelchair-bound guitarist.
Why this morning? Why not Tuesday? Or last month? Go figure. All I can offer up is my astonished gratitude for the serendipity, and a growing resistance to belief in coincidence.