Some of the most profound advice we receive in life can come from total strangers that 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. Hence, when I was researching my chapter on ‘Relationships’ in my newly released book in the MPH Masterclass series entitled, “Jojo Struys’s Guide To Wellness”, I felt it was important to include this personal story, dating back to my student days because it was filled with so much valuable wisdom 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. It’s actually beneficial to anyone, at any point in time, just as a reality check.
Mick explained that “the list” came about when he once wrote a list of 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 a low self-esteem. 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. That’s when he decided to busk on the street because he felt it would build his confidence and it was definitely something that scared him because it's so public. Once, I saw an elegant man in a suit stop to shake his hand and have a quick 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 realize at the time, that the man who stopped by was Mick’s friend and that 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 the money. It was his own choice to busk because it taught him about people and brought him great humility. I was humbly impressed he had done this as yet another move on his “list” on his path to self-improvements
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 would be too. So, his wisdom was straightforward and it made so much sense. Instead of focusing outward, he was focusing inward. If you wanted to meet the person of your dreams, don’t be expecting them to possess a string of qualities you don’t even have yourself.
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 question, “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 to become even stronger and bigger together.