Some of the most profound advice we receive in life can come from total strangers who cross our paths at significant turning points in our lives. This can happen in the strangest, most unexpected of places.
As it turns out, I learnt a great deal about love and determination from a busker on the street when I was a university student in Western Australia.
Some of the most valuable wisdom I gained had come from a person many people used to walk past without a second glance.
Basically, there was a busker called Mick I used to stop and listen to in the city who always sang love songs on his guitar. This reminded me not to judge a book by its cover because he was such a paradox. He had long hair and tattoos and this whole “bad boy” image.
At a glance, you would probably be expecting him to sing rock songs or heavy metal but a truly sentimental heart beat under that tough exterior. He always sang about love.
On one afternoon, I noticed a blond girl passing him a slip of paper and I saw him shaking his head. I thought it was a song request but as it turns out, it was her phone number. It was really none of my business but I asked him why he threw it away.
The girl was really attractive and she had obviously made the move first by passing him her number. He said simply, “I’m not ready for the girl of my dreams until I become the man of my dreams”.
Then Mick patiently told me all about what I still refer to fondly as “the list”. You don’t even need to be single to formulate one.
Mick explained that “the list” came about when he once wrote down all the qualities he would like to see in a partner. What struck him right away is that he didn’t even have half these qualities himself.
Loyalty was at the top of his list but he had previously lied and cheated in his relationships. He wanted a partner who was confident but he was shy with low self-esteem, at the time.
He admired women who looked athletic and fit but he was overweight and did not exercise much at all. He also wanted a partner who subscribed to the view “do something that scares you” but he never did anything that challenged his own comfort zones.
So, in light of this, he decided to work on himself first to ensure he had the qualities on the list he was looking for in a partner. These became his personal goals.
Life is like a mirror so when we exude confidence, we also reflect it and it becomes easier to attract the people and situations we never dreamed of, because we are coming from strength and an abundant mindset. We are not desperate, or coming from lack.
That’s when he decided to busk on the street (not because he needed the money, I later discovered) but because he felt it would build up his confidence and it was definitely something that scared him because it was so public.
Once, I saw an elegant man in a suit stop to have a chat, listen to a song with Mick and have a laugh with him.
I was almost annoyed when I saw this same man step into a chauffeur driven car waiting on the sidewalk to take him to his next appointment. I wondered why he had not left any coins in the hat for Mick. He could obviously afford it.
This would be my own mistake for judging because I didn’t realise at the time, that the man who stopped by was Mick’s childhood friend and they both lived in the same expensive neighbourhood.
I had no idea that Mick went home to a big, clean house every day and that he didn’t need any of the money he was receiving from his busking sessions.
It was his own choice to busk because it taught him about people and it brought him great humility. I was also impressed he had done this as yet another thing to check off that “list” on his path to self-improvement.
He also proactively started working out in the gym. He felt it was only fair if he wanted a partner who was fit, that he should be too. His wisdom was straightforward and it simply made so much sense.
Instead of focusing outward, he was focusing inward. If you wanted to meet the person of your dreams, start becoming the person other people can only dream of meeting.
And you don’t need to do this overnight. Start small and be consistent. Even making micro-changes can lead to profound, lasting changes in the long-run.
Start by appreciating and accepting yourself in every way, even your limitations. As paradoxical as it might sound, practising more self-love and patience from within can help you to move proactively one step closer to becoming the person you’re proud to see in the mirror, from the inside out.
It is almost arrogant of us to expect a partner to come with all the things we are looking for without taking a good, hard look at ourselves. Not to mention, it’s not strictly the job of our partners to be making us feel whole, romantic as the notion might be.
Though we always hear the phrase, “how’s your other half”, the truth is, a solid relationship is not about two halves of a whole coming together but ideally two whole individuals joining their hands and their hearts as they unite, to become even stronger and bigger together.
When we judge and complain about the world, we need to really check in on the state of our own inner world. Everything “out there” is always within the self. Everything begins with you. To change the world, we need to change first.
Jojo Struys is a regional TV host, speaker and wellness personality. She is also the founder of OhanaJo Studio, Malaysia’s largest yoga and sound healing space.