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Here to be Loud

“It's hard being quiet when one's imagination is so loud.”

- Brian Basset (comic strip artist)

On a misty cool day, I picked up a hot latte from one of my favorite coffee shops in the Arts District. Driving through, I noticed an older gentleman staged on a sidewalk, armed with guitar and music stand. The musician wore colorful, lavender tights, a denim jacket and a beanie covering most of his blonde uncommitted curls. I was curious, so I parked and listened for a few minutes. His music was a little bit jagged, but it had its moments. He reminded me of a large exclamation point.

I was stirred by this man’s determination to make music, regardless of absent listeners. There was hardly anyone walking around, mostly an empty street, surrounded by undisturbed buildings in Downtown L.A.’s Arts District. I continued on to my destination, a nearby bookstore.

As I thumbed through a few books, I settled on a cookbook and a handful of slim journals, one for each of my three kids. I thought that a fourth journal spoke to me, so I threw it in. I kept staring at the title wondering if its message really matched me: I AM HERE TO BE LOUD.

As I walked back to my car, I noticed our musician was still there fiddling with his equipment. I placed the books in my car, with the exception of one book. I crossed the street and told the man: I have a gift for you. He was wearing a (Covid) mask, but I could tell he was smiling in delight. “Oh yeah? That’s great!” I handed him the book, he looked at the title and chuckled, he seemed to really get a kick out of the whole experience. “Name is John. What is your name?” Rosa. He kept staring and smiling, as if trying to figure out the purpose of the game. I broke his curiosity, “This book was meant for you. Maybe it’s the universe trying to give you affirmation. Keep being loud!” I said goodbye and drove off. I made a u-turn and made it a point to honk, loudly. His body shook in laughter.

I don’t know if John is a good musician. But this seems inconsequential. What impressed me about John was that he was determined to do his thing. He wanted to make music, or to be loud. He had a need to express. Maybe that’s why they call it the Arts District. Art, after all, is expression. We can all make some noise, perhaps with an out-of-tune guitar, paint brush, writing pen, ballerina shoe, picket sign, an ALL-CAPS message, or even with an Air Guitar. Choose your tool and keep it polished.

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Great article! I bet John is writing a new song in his journal now📝🎵

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