What does it take to be one in a hundred?
It seems that it would be enough to raise your head, look at the world and take it in.
This would be sufficiently rare to make you stand out in any big city at any given moment. Not that standing out is necessarily something to strive for.
What I’m talking about here is a pure numbers game.
To be one in a hundred – in a given moment – means doing something that 99 other people are not doing.
At least that’s what I noticed during a week when I was teaching a workshop on the other side of Paris.
Less Dread, More Wonder
Every morning around 9 o’clock, Monday through Friday, I took the long horizontal escalator at the Montparnasse metro station to change from line 12 to 13.
In less than a minute I would see about 200 people passing by in the opposite direction (yes, I did count one morning). Only a couple of them would see me seeing them.
Most other faces seemed frozen in various expressions of dread or determination.
I thought to myself that they are missing the show – the daily terror show. And that all it takes to be one in a hundred is to raise one’s head and look at the world. And if more of us did so… it would become an altogether different show.
Less dread. More wonder.
The wonder show of the world.
This is also the title of a great album by Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy & The Cairo Gang – that’s where I got the expression. I don’t think they sing the actual words. They don’t have to. They make you feel it.
Anyway… on the Thursday morning, thinking this for the fourth day in a row, I got my phone out and wrote the following extended note.
It’s an exhortation of sorts – to myself; to the workshop participants I was going to see 15–20 minutes later; to anyone, really…
To Be One in a Hundred
“Correspondance à Gare Montparnasse”
People, hundreds of faces passing by
All in different degrees of terror
Most are missing the show
Open your eyes, lift your head
Look at the world
Look at people
Be one in a hundred
Describe what you see
Express how you feel
Dare to proffer an interpretation
Even though it’s not the absolute truth
Even though it’s not the last word on the matter
It is a word on the matter
And it’s yours
Some will recognise it
Some will understand it
Some will even share it (Perhaps even on Facebook)
Some will love it, others hate it
Some will mistake you for it
Some will love you for it
And some will hate you – for it
They are all wrong: You are not it
Don’t think they love you – or hate you
No, they love or they hate it
So be an artist: Open your mouth – speak your mind!
Sing your heart out! Get a pen in your hand – write!
And above all: Get up and dance!
No matter what they say.
No matter what you think they think.
Most don’t know how to see, anyway
Don’t know how to feel
So come on and show them something, give them something:
What you see
What you feel
That’s all you can do
Be there for them
Be there for others to see you
To feel you
Be one in a hundred
So tomorrow there can be two
Then maybe three , and four
And who knows , one day
Maybe more than fifty! A majority!
And for a second or a minute
The daily terror show will be replaced
For someone, someone at least
By something else
By you or by someone else
Who sees and feels the wonder show of the world
Like that man handing out free newspapers
At Porte de Vanves, exit number two