One Positive Thing - 4/10/16

My phone buzzed. I looked at the screen, it said "Reminder: 7:00 One Positive Thing". I had set the daily reminder for myself in an attempt to redeem any bad day by recalling an enlightening moment to turn around all else. In this moment, it seemed cruelly ironic as I was seething with rage.

I had gone out busking. It had been a good day. Over 2 hours in as I approached the end of my stint, I played the song "Low". A random lowlife walked by and snarked, "Yeah, earn that money like a stripper." I didn't much care for his statement, but I was accustomed to shrugging off such remarks, plus he kept walking was already pretty much gone. Then, a huge figure cloaked in a ratty red flannel shirt approached my bag. Her (?) dirty gray curls and overall appearance didn't seem much like a donor. She was reaching into my bag. Occasionally, people took change when they put in a bigger bill, but usually they asked. The person was silent and walked away. I didn't notice any money in her hand as it came out from the bag. But it was extremely suspicious -- I may just have missed it. I turned to onlookers and asked them, "Did that person just steal from my bag?" "Yeah." "What! That's fucked up. Why didn't you tell me?!" "I thought you saw..."

I was infuriated. Red flannel had me seeing red. I had considered this before -- the possibility of someone stealing from the bag -- but had resolved that it didn't really matter that much as they wasn't really a personal loss. Despite this hypothesis, when it actually happened, I was angry beyond myself. I considered running after her, but that would risk even more loss (of money or boombox). And even if I'd caught her, what was I going to do? Rob a (probably) homeless (definitely) obese (probably) woman? No, there was too much uncertainty there. The only certain thing was that I was furious. I was too close to the end of my shift to regain composure and continue so I packed up walked away.

As I walked down the street, I turned my music off. I was caught in the riptides of fury over this. Why did this bother me so much? It wasn't my money. Every dollar put into the bag meant more for me. It was faith -- in my idea and in me. It represented a trust that I felt had been betrayed. Even though it wasn't directly my fault, I felt responsible. I carried this burden -- this guilt.

My thoughts devolved further yet. I realized how vulnerable I was on the street. Why did I leave the comfort of my home to trudge through such a jungle? I was basically putting myself in a position to be physically harmed, verbally abused and/or victimized by criminals during every excursion. This could happen every time. Not only was I physically vulnerable, but more importantly, I was placing myself in a position where a single occurrence could occupy my entire mind and ruin my entire day. There was an emotional vulnerability which was married to my endeavors as well. This was an even higher toll.

And so my day was ruined by a scumbag... I drove home through the mental fog and violent thoughts which made me feel even worse. This was all I could think about or seemingly remember. I couldn't remember the moment all of the good that had preceded this minor catastrophe. I couldn't remember the other homeless guy who walked up with his cane and garbage bag full of belongings and reached into the bag to pull out and donate a bag of Snickers bites. I couldn't remember the Asian guy who asked if I would tag him in and then took center stage for a brilliant moment to drop some ferocious b-boy moves. I couldn't remember the chubby little kid in the down jacket who danced with me despite being mocked and nearly tackled (lovingly) by his sibling. I couldn't remember the adorable little girl in the flowing flowery dress that twirled beautifully when she turned in her bright red half-inch heels. I couldn't remember the muscular dude with the hipster beard who joined me in a dance triggering an enormous applause from the audience. I couldn't even remember the other random guy who came up to me and gave me a Milky Way. I had held the ENTIRE galaxy in my hand, and all I could remember was being skimped a few bucks by an anonymous poor person.

Or maybe I could remember everything else. Maybe I COULD remember all the good. Because I needed to remember. That's why I set the reminder, after all, and it was only 10 minutes until 7:00.

image.jpg

This is Water (the lost wallet) - 12/16/15

"I thought they might be stains from the barbecue you're coming from."

"Huh?"

"Because you were licking your fingers."

 

That was when I became angry.

 

I had been stopped for "additional screening" by the TSA agents at the gate. It had been 14 years since 9/11, and I had been on numerous international and domestic flights all over the world since then. Despite my middle name being "Ali", I had never once been hassled by airport security until now.

 

I had a flight for an interview which I had intentionally slated for later in the day so that I could run the Santa speedo run before immediately heading to the airport. I had spent the morning making my costume for the race. I stuffed my wallet, phone and keys into the pockets of my white coat. After finishing the run, I ran a victory lap. Just as I was about to head home, I felt my pockets for my belongings. My keys were exactly where I'd left them. My wallet was not. Upon this realization, my mood switched like a light in the dark. My heart sank as my my mind scrambled with both the sense of emotional loss and rationality of next steps. The feelings were compounded by the sense of urgency created by the fact that I had a critical flight to catch. Despite how unlikely it was that I would ever see my wallet again, it was even less likely that I would be able to retrieve it before I needed to be at the airport. I've never been much for gambling. I put out some quick feelers by asking the organizers of the run and the management of the bar if they had heard anything. As I was the first person around the course, if I had dropped it while racing, some other runners might have picked it up. I figured this was my best chance. Those leads offered nothing. Instead, I systematically ran through current losses and potential problems. 

 

The inventory of my wallet that I could recall was:

2 credit cards

2 debit cards

~$50 cash

$350 Money order

Driver's license

A few random business cards

Hospital ID

Medical school faculty ID

ACLS certification card

Public transit card

 

Of these things, the only time-sensitive and important things were my credit/debit cards and my driver's license. In fact, losing my wallet allowed me to quantify exactly how much excess I was lugging around everyday (this was obviously a liberating point I would only appreciate after the dust had settled days later). I was planning on renting a car to get around to various sites for my interview, but thus would now be impossible since I had no license to drive. If I had no electronic funds accessible because I had no credit cards, I wouldn't be able to get around very easily at all since Uber or Lyft wouldn't function without them. I was in dire straits. It was about 1:30pm, and my flight was at 5pm... The clock was ticking.

 

I used my lifeline and phoned a friend. Tick. Thankfully, she was available, so I asked her to meet me at my place. Tock. Then I ran the 2 miles home while attempting to call the Bank of America helplines to cancel my credit cards. Tick. All the while through my distress, people kept stopping me for photos, and I couldn't decline. Tock. The run home took about 15 minutes, and I was still painted blue upon my arrival. Tick. I needed to shower, but my roommate was in the bathroom. Tock. So, I confirmed that I had my passport readily available to board my flight. Tick. My roommate finished in the bathroom, and I rushed in. Tock. I rubbed the blue paint off of my body as quickly as I could and put on clean clothes. Tick. I still hadn't been able to get through to Bank of America. Tock. It was a Saturday, so their branches would have reduced hours and most of them would be closed by now anyways. Tick. It was 2:15pm. Tock. I had no credit cards/debit cards, no money and hardly any time. Tick. I had some cash sitting around waiting to be deposited from my last charity busk, and despite my significant reservations, I could see no alternative in the moment, so I grabbed the ziplock and grabbed some cash. Tock. I counted it immediately, so that I could refill it when I had sorted everything out. Tick. My friend arrived just in time to nearly collide with me as I bolted out the door. Tock. My breathing was heavy, and I was aggressively biting my nails from anxiety. Tick. I looked up a Bank of America physical location that was open. Tock. There was only one nearby that was open until 3 pm. Tick. It was already 2:30 pm as we weaved through Saturday traffic. Tock. I finally reached the credit card helpline to have them freeze my credit cards and inquired about emergency replacements. Tick. They said I could only get emergency debit cards, and it would have to be from a physical location. Tock. "Ok, that's fine, I'm right outside one and about to walk in. Thanks." Click. I walked in and asked for an emergency debit card. It was 2:40 pm. The attendant said I needed my ID. I had forgotten my passport in the car, so I had to run out and grab it. Tock...

 

Finally, some progress was made toward calming my nerves as the Bank of America people were able to replace my debit cards very efficiently. I could survive now. I went to the ATM to activate my cards. I deposited the money that I had comandeered from my busking funds into my DBD account, and withdrew cash from my personal account instead. My friend dropped me off at the airport, but my troubles weren't finished yet.

 

I still had to figure out what I would do without my driver's license. To get around during my trip, I could spend some money on Uber or Lyft, but when I returned, I would still have no license and hence no way to get to work (I had to commute to Providence daily for my current rotation). I had already had to request several days off to attend the interview, so to request another day just to visit the RMV after I returned felt like it would be too much even though this felt like an emergency. As I continued to drown in my conundrum, I checked in at the airport kiosk and stood in line at the TSA checkpoint. My thoughts were entirely focused on my driver's license and the events of the morning as I exhibited the empty tic of nail biting.

 

I went through the scanning machine thoughtlessly. I was patted down by the guy on the other side which happened all the time because I always wore either suspenders or cargo pants which triggered 'hotspots'. Then, I was notified that I had been selected for additional screening. I couldn't have cared less. I was early to the airport, and my mind was spazzing out on a distant worry. What difference did it make whether my physical being was being frisked and my things unraveled or my body was sitting in an uncomfortable airport bench beside my bag? Either way, I would be doing the same thing: running various scenarios through my head and how to troubleshoot the driver's license dilemma.

 

So it began. First, I was quite thoroughly instructed on how the frisking was to proceed, then a quite thorough frisking proceeded. The single detail on the frisking that I will mention to summarize the experience was that I was impressed how his hand managed to palpate the narrow spaces between my scrotum and each inner thigh. "Uh huh, whatever", I thought. Then, two other TSA agents began rummaging through my neatly packaged things. All the while, they asked me questions. 

 

"So, how are you doing today?"

"Terrible, actually."

"Terrible? Why's that?"

"Well, I lost my wallet literally a couple hours ago, and now I have no driver's license,  and I spent the last hour or so trying to replace my debit cards so that I have access to my money while traveling. Now I can't rent a car when I get there and I'm on my way to an interview and I don't know how I'm going to get around."

"Oh no. How'd you lose your wallet?"

"I was running the Santa speedo run which I 'win' every year, and I must have dropped it."

"Oh man, did you win at least?"

"Yeah. I mean, it's not really a race; that's why I go every year to 'win' because I think it's hilarious. I can show you a photo on my phone, if you want."

"No, that's ok. You're on your way to an interview? What for?"

"I'm an anesthesiologist."

"Oh man, what's starting on that if you don't mind my asking?"

"What do you mean, like, starting pay?"

"Yeah."

"Iunno, probably a quarter million or something."

"Wow, that's a lot of money!"

"I guess, I mean, not really. How much do those tech guys make in California? Plus, I'm in tons of debt."

"I guess, it's just a matter of perspective."

"Yup."

 

One of the charms of my life has been how new people react to my multifaceted nature. I like to believe there is a moment when they realize they are encountering someone completely unique. Whether it's because of my ultramarathon running, proclivity for costumes, street performance, physician-hood, some combination of the above or the personality of nonchalance that accompanies each aspect of my life, something about Adnan will stand out with novelty which hopefully inspires growth. Not everything is as it seems on the surface.

 

In this case, we had already established that "it was just a matter of perspective". Unfortunately, the TSA agents were unable to make the last step on taking that idea and applying it to life more broadly. So, one continued.

 

"What's that on your shirt?"

"Hm? These are blotches from a party I was at." (I was wearing a white undershirt with multiple pink colored sprays on it from a graffiti party I had gone to months ago."

"I thought they might be stains from the barbecue you're coming from."

"Huh?" I was legitimately confused.

"Because you were licking your fingers."

 

Despite the protracted conversation of meaningless drivel from my life, I was still quite numb to external stimuli due to my internal strife. Even still, these guys had managed to hit a sore spot. I was flabbergasted. I had been curious why I was selected for screening this time. Suddenly, it was clear: it was because I was biting my nails nervously which had seemed suspicious to them.

 

"I have a nail biting problem which is worsened because I just lost my wallet," I began to explain defensively before quickly realizing this line of conversation would be beyond their comprehension. I quit and receded into my numb rage. Nail biting was a bad habit of mine which I had failed to give up due to its chronic reemergence in times of stress. I was already embarassed about it. Suddenly, it was being used as justification to subject me to additional obstacles in a time already mired in insult. It was humiliating and enraging. Eventually, I boarded my plane still sour from the encounter.

 

In a commencement address entitled "This is Water," David Foster Wallace delved into various perceptions that each of us could utilize to introduce wonder into any mundane part of life. Through awareness, he proposed, we could remove ourselves from the egocentric bubbles in which many of us so often exist. The proverbial "I" am the victim of the circumstances around me and the center of my own world. We can exist as the victims of our perceived environment, or we could control our perceptions realize that there might be more to the world around us.

 

That skinny brown kid is biting his nails suspiciously. Maybe he is nervous because he's trying to smuggle something onto a plane. Or maybe he is nervous because he just lost his wallet hours before traveling for an interview while running a race painted blue and now doesn't know how he'll get around while traveling because he doesn't have his driver's license anymore.

 

"Of course, none of this is likely, but it's also not impossible. It just depends what you wanna consider... The only thing that's capital-T true is that you get to decide how you see it... That is true freedom."

-David Foster Wallace

You Don't Know - 10/8/15

Hi Anthony,

I don't know you, so this isn't actually addressed to you. Because to me, you are not a person. I have never met you. I have only a single sentence upon which to base this. You are more than a person to me. You are an idea. You wrote something which hurt me. Words tore like daggers into my being. You represent the negativity and judgment individuals face every day. Today, you said:

"You sound like a self centered douche bag."

I am not DoctorBeDancing.

I am Adnan.

I am a person.

I have feelings.

I have a mind.

I have a body.

 

To create a symbol of positivity that was stronger than my flesh, I poured my sweat into the concrete. While working at the hospital, I also worked anywhere from 10-30 hours a week to donate something unique to humanity.

You don't know how I sacrificed my entire summer because I could think of nothing except DoctorBeDancing.

You don't know how I gave up every day off I had because I danced it away.

And you don't know that after I danced, I was too tired to do anything else afterwards.

You don't know the courage it took for me, a skinny Indian kid, to stand up to the people who threatened me on the street.

You don't know how my house was robbed and the part that hurt me the most was my boombox being taken.

You don't know the toll DoctorBeDancing took on my social life or my relationships.

You don't know how I limped away from my dancing sets because my legs throbbed.

You don't know how many times I worked 20 hours overnight until 7 or 8 in the morning and still danced the next day.

And you don't know how much it took for me to smile when I danced after working overnight because my first patient died the day before.

You don't know how I almost stopped enjoying dancing because some days it felt like work.

You don't know how hard it was to dance in 90 degree weather and 100% humidity for the third straight day and still hate myself when I got home because I felt like I still hadn't done enough.

You don't know how I stopped running because my knees couldn't handle the the pain from both dancing and running. 

You don't know how much running means to me, and so you don't know what the previous sentence even signifies.

Because: You. Don't. Know. Me.

 

You don't know me.

You don't know how I could be brought to tears by my work.

You don't know how a simple smile could power me through another dance. 

You don't know how some days, everything I gave up was all worth it because of a simple note that somebody wrote saying thank you.

You don't know know how much words mean.

And you don't know how much yours discouraged me.

So, let my actions speak louder than my words.

Then judge me. 

 

DoctorBeDancing is about tolerance of diverse ideas because we are all individuals.

I am a person. 

You are a bully.

And you don't know.

 

Love,

Adnan

image.jpg

The Guns in My Face - 10/7/15

The weight of my boombox seemed heavier than usual. I was a bit down. I decided to do what I do to raise my mood. I decided to dance. I walked to my usual place in Downtown Crossing since it was on the way to the hospital. There was a police officer on a motorbike sitting exactly where I usually set my sign. I didn't care to attract his attention. Not because I felt I was doing something illegal, but because I wasn't in the mood to have to fend off random bullies today. So, I set up down the street a little way to avoid any altercations. Despite my added effort, it didn't work out. First a homeless man tried appended to me. He put a cup down next to my bag and started doing a low quality dance. I ignored him. People continued to donate into my bag and not into his cup -- as they should given that he was just in my way. After a bit, he seemed upset and reached towards my bag, at which point I stopped him and told him to "get out of here. Leave, now." There was an audience who jumped in to fend off the homeless man as well. He left. The cop who had occupied my spot earlier walked by on patrol. He said, "I don't mind you doing that, but you can't be in the way. You've got to move to the side." He walked away with those words. I wasn't really in the way, and my act is highly mobile, so I can move it very quickly in case of emergency. His rules weren't really applicable to me, so I continued. On his stroll back towards his motorcycle, he stopped again, "I told you before, you need to move back. Are you going to listen?" I replied, "Ooookay, but if I'm not visible, I don't get donations. You're breaking my balls, man. You're breaking my balls." I moved my stuff back a ways and started dancing. With the move back, my efficacy was dramatically decreased. I couldn't raise money if I wasn't garnering attention and the donation bag wasn't easily accessible by being "in the way". I moved my boombox and bag again. I was about 3-4 feet from the curb in the middle of the "way". This was a pedestrian only street about 30 feet across, my being able to block the way with my dancing was an impossibility. So, the cop returned again on his motorbike. This time he was more disgruntled.

"All right, time to pack it up," he said. His eyes stared aggressively into mine.

I twitched. I was already upset. This was not the time to press into me. "Why?"

"Pack it up. I told you to move. I was nice about it. You didn't move. So, it's time to pack it up."

I offered him what I could, "But I'm raising money for charity. Did you read the sign?"
"It doesn't matter."

It doesn't matter he said. The crowd that gathered grew and moved in closer. My opponent here, although he was formerly quite polite, had launched into a world that he didn't understand. OF COURSE IT MATTERS. The results and the means all matter. Blindly throwing around authority is not your job. Every situation should be treated as an individual situation. I had given him a chance. I rose my voice.

"Ok, what laws are you shutting me down for? You told me to go away. Based on what laws. This is public property."

He reached for his breast pocket. I thought he was about to pull out his citation pad. Instead, he reached for the radio on his shoulder, "I'm about to find out."

"So, you don't know. You're threatening me without any reason."

A woman in the crowd jeered, "He obviously doesn't have Facebook."

My voice rose further. I grabbed my phone and handed it to one of the people standing by, "Here, can you take a video of this for me please." If I received a citation, the world would know why.

Another audience member joined the conversation, "You know he's famous, right? He's all over Facebook."

This wasn't about being famous. It was about the idea that blind exercise of power is dangerous, and that somebody had to stand against it to set an example. DoctorBeDancing happened to be in an appropriate place to do that. He was able to send that message.

The policeman was obviously nervous. He wasn't prepared for what he had stepped into.

"Ok, what's your badge number?" I looked over at his badge. "It's badge #1927," I declared louder yet for the camera record. "I'm being told to shut down on public property for breaking no laws. Do you know what laws you're threatening me with?" I reinforced. 

The officer continued to talk into his radio and cell phone. Another officer arrived to help diffuse the situation.
Another random passerby shouts out, "Hey! I saw you on NBC!"

I wave to him and smile, "Hi! Thanks!"

I address the police again, "I can tell you what the laws are. I have been through this before. You're going to threaten me with: soliciting money without a permit. No permits are required for street performance in the City of Boston. And the other one is noise. The noise laws in Boston are 'clearly audible from 100 feet away'. I'm not breaking that law either."

Two more police vehicles pull into this small pedestrian only alley way. Yes, they called for back-up on me. The officer walks away to go talk to his superior seated in the car. Then, I am beckoned over. I can tell what has occurred. The higher ranking officer is much more charismatic. Back-up was called not to escalate, but to diffuse the situation. I explain my side, and am heard. The confrontation has left adrenaline pumping through my veins. Changing stances from aggressive to cordial. I reiterate multiple times, "There's no hard feelings. I don't mean to be a pain. But I pour my sweat into this, and it's stressful -- just like your job. Tempers will boil over. But ultimately, I get upset when someone tries to push me away without reason when I'm just trying to help the community."

I walk back to my crowd of supporters and thank them for their help. We talk with one of the other officers who explains that their job is stressful and how they could have just "had 2 guns pointed in his face earlier today". To which I reply, "Well, I mean, you guys each have guns too, right? So I had at least 3 guns in my face 5 minutes ago!"

Ultimately, what separates a hero from a criminal is socio-centricity, the idea that what you're doing benefits someone other than yourself. The reason I chose to take a stand is because a blind exercise of power is dangerous. In no way did taking a stand help me, but we hear so many stories in the news about how authorities target individuals without reason. The question we should all ask ourselves is: do I back down? Do I allow this behavior to continue, or do I stand up for what I believe in and represent the people who can't represent themselves? I know what my duty is.

image.jpg

Not Alone, Never Alone (Day 24) - 8/10/15 #DoctorBeDancing

I danced on Newbury on Saturday in the early afternoon. After about 20 minutes a police car drove up. I glanced over at him as I always do when I see a police officer to see how he would respond to me. He waved his hand in a circular motion in the air. I wasn't sure what that meant, so I gave him a twirl and continued. Apparently, he didn't mean "I want you to twirl", he meant "wrap it up". He exited his vehicle and entered my arena.

"You're going to have to move."

"Why?"

"You're blocking the sidewalk. You can't dance here. You want to dance? Go dance in the park."

"I am already set up here, and I'm pretty sure I'm allowed to be here."

"You want me to write you a citation?"

"A citation for what? What would you be citing me for?"

"You're soliciting money. Do you have a permit for that? And you have amplified sound."

I was already armed for this encounter, but first I wanted to give him a chance.

"I'm raising money for charity."

"It doesn't matter."

So I struck.

"Ok, do you know your laws? Tell me what the rules are. You don't know. First of all, street performers don't need permits in Boston. Furthermore, the laws permit sound up to 70 decibels. Do you want me to show you? I have them."

"Yeah, show me."

And so, I pulled out my phone and brought up my own website in front of him and cited him the law. He was ill-prepared for this battle he had entered. I feel like he hadn't read the sign and had engaged me prematurely, but was too stubborn to stand down. So, we continued our delicate tango.

"Well, you're blocking the public sidewalk which is a civil citation. See that line?" He pointed at a crack between the broad concrete slabs about 3 feet from where I was standing. "That's private property, everything up until there is public, and you can't stand here."

"So, I can move right there?"

"Sure, you can try until [the Nike store] gets annoyed with your noise and calls me to boot you."

My eyebrow shot to the sky. Now, he was just being obnoxious. One of the employees at the Nike store had popped outside minutes ago to tell me I was doing great work. I became irate and knew how this was to end. It was time to finish him.

"You know you serve me, right? You serve all of us. What's your badge number?" I snapped a photo of Officer 1209's badge.

"Well, let me snap a photo of your stuff blocking the sidewalk!"

"Go for it. And you can hashtag it too. And I'll move my stuff 3 feet over. Don't forget who you serve. You serve all of us."

"And I'm going to go into the Nike store and let them know that they can call me to get rid of you."

"Sure."

He entered the store as I moved my stuff over a few feet. While this was all going on, a young Asian guy had overheard and joined my fight to stand against this tyrannical ignorance. I was not alone. Officer 1209 exited the store, and we continued to duel.

"Ok, I let them know. I'll be back in a few minutes to tell you to move."

"You serve us. Do you know what the Boston police mission statement is?"

Tenzin, my ally, jeered "I pay my taxes! You serve us!" as he held my sign high and proudly.

Officer 1209 turned to walk away.

"Do you know your mission statement? Tell me what it is! Come on!"

"See you later, doctor," he yelled from the safety of his car as if I wasn't a doctor. Suddenly, he was like the pseudo-polite, uniformed version of the homeless man asking me for money to buy cigarettes then telling me "You're not a fucking doctor".

I laughed mockingly and yelled back "See you later, police officer."

He left and did not return.

As I reestablished my composure, I thanked Tenzin for his support and looked around for where I could actually set up without going anywhere. As I looked around, I saw the girl in the Nike store waving to me and indicating to the ground telling me to set up in front of the store. And so I did. And more people stopped than ever before. The battle invigorated me in a strange way. I could see the public support on my side in real time. I was not alone. I was never alone as #DoctorBeDancing.

 

99 Problems but a Busk Ain't One - 7/25/15

This is Danny, the guitarist busker. I walked down Boylston to my usual spot and he was set up in it. "Dammit," I thought as he sat there not even playing. I kept walking, crossed the street and set up at least 100 feet away. He still had not played a note. I began to dance and about 5 minutes and maybe $15 in, he interrupted me.

Danny: "Hey, I'm going to need you to move. I've been set up right there for like an hour already. And I can hear you from over there. I'm asking you nicely, if you don't listen, we're gonna have a problem."

I was already flabbergasted. This wife-beater donning, greasy haired jackass accosted me out of the blue to threaten me? I had faced several difficulties since beginning my endeavors from outsiders but this was my first encounter from another performer. And it was already unpleasant. Every time I danced, I had to arrive on a higher plane of existence. I was in flow, driven by the energy of the music and the crowd. When someone interrupted to try and stop me, I would be brought back down to the world of normalcy. Worse yet, Danny had threatened me without even introducing himself. This isn't the Internet, Danny. You can't just threaten someone emptily and get away with it. Obviously, I was angry, but I held back.

"Why don't you calm down. What's your name?"

"Danny."

We shook hands, "I'm Adnan, nice to meet you. I don't like you coming over here and being rude. You weren't playing when I came over here and set up."

"I have been there for over an hour. You didn't see all my stuff?"

"If you're not playing, I don't know what you're doing. Maybe you're packing up to leave. How am I supposed to know? You think I want your music interfering with me? I don't want clashing sounds. I'll move, but don't be rude to me. And don't threaten me."

I wasn't in the habit of standing up for myself out on the streets. Last time this had occurred with the Downtown Crossing ambassadors, an audience member had stood up for me and scolded them, demanding that I continue. This prior instance meant had meant a lot to me because it showed me what my audience thought of me -- that people were willing to stand up for a good cause, to represent the individual pursuing passion for a higher purpose than self. Such a revelation gave me the courage to stand up for myself as well. Because I wasn't standing up for myself if I asked Danny to stand down. Adnan was standing up for DoctorBeDancing. When you bring me down from my higher plane of existence by interrupting my performance, you transform me back from DBD into Adnan -- the onlooker who admires DBD and his purpose just as much as everyone else. But Adnan is a person, and he feels the fury that DBD can shrug off.

I walked a short way up the street to set up again. But my mind was brimming with aggression. I could have just kept my performance going and ignored him. That would make him angry. But I was more creative than that. I would rather systematically dismantle my assailant. I could set up my sign directly in front of him and dance to his own music. There wouldn't be much that he could do. He would be furious, and I would be laughing because he had assaulted my ideals. The thought frightened me. That I would enjoy it so much.

While I could mentally break my aggressor, this would be selfish. The only person who might benefit would be Adnan. And every minute I spent doing so would be money directly out of charitable funds. This wasn't right. So, I would take the higher road for the greater good that DBD represented. 

I set up a little bit down the road and began to dance again. The anger evaporated in the heat of the act as I again transformed into DBD. I smiled, and the world smiled back.

Danny! 

Danny!