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The Man With The Beige Hat

I went out to dinner with one my dearest friend, and after a great time of remaking the world and gaining calories we won’t be loosing before 2030, we went to wait for our forever late bus. Only in movies do I see fascinating events happening in bus stations, in my life, the only things that happen in bus stops are late buses, missed buses and fine collectors. But today was different, today we met The Man With the Beige Hat.

He came to us, in the most innocent, naive and humbling way and asked us if he could recite a poem for us. Recite. A poem. For Us. I am going to pause here to let that sink in. (If you need more time just take few minutes).

In our small, busy, always-the-same and tiring lives, we almost forget that these kind of human beings exist, the kind that are not afraid of ridicule, the kind that are not dependent on other’s approval. He told us he’d spent the whole day reciting this poem to random people in the street because it was the official Reading Day. (I checked, it is indeed, at least in Switzerland). The guy had an orange, a red paper-made moon, a book and a ball that looked like a bowling ball but wasn’t; these were part of his performance. He got into his character and started performing for us; I am writing performing and not reciting because he embodied every word of the poem, every pause, every turn, every emotion; right there, at 11pm, in front of everybody.

While he was performing for us, I couldn’t help but admire his bravery, I was in complete awe of this man. He woke up that day with the sole purpose of getting people interested in literature, and he didn’t stop at telling people about the Reading Day, he recited a whole poem, no, he performed for random people in the street, with his orange and his paper-made moon. I can’t imagine the number of people that looked down on him, ignored him or were rude to him, I have distributed enough flyers to know just how unkind people can be sometimes. The only thing that keeps me going is the payment I will receive, yet this man, The Man With the Beige Hat, was doing this with zero expectation, no money, no fame, no power, just purpose.

I think what I admired most is that unlike him, I stop myself from doing many things because I’m scared of other people’s perception and judgment. I am scared that they will think I am odd or uncool or stupid. Even worse, I sometimes stop myself from being me, because I might be embarrassing, people might not like me anymore, or people might not want to know me. I didn’t even ask for his first name because I was scared he might think I was being intrusive.

He showed me just how grand and liberating, being for the sake of being, is awesome. We should try more often to just be, to just fulfill a purpose. With no shame, no fear, no dread. If you ever feel ashamed for being yourself or for pursuing a goal, just remember The Man With The Beige Hat, with his orange and his red paper-made moon, remember to recite your poem regardless of people in the street.




Here is the poem he performed:

Vent du Sud,

brun, ardent,

ton souffle sur ma chair

apporte un semis de regards

brillants et le parfum

des orangers.

Tu fais rougir la lune

et sangloter

les peupliers captifs, mais tu arrives

trop tard!

J'ai déjà enroulé la nuit de mon histoire

sur l'étagère!

Même sans vent,


Tourne, mon cœur,

tourne, mon cœur.

Vent du nord,

ours blanc du vent!

Tu souffles sur ma chair,

tout frissonnant d'aurores


avec ta traîne de spectres


et riant de Dante

aux éclats.

Ô polisseur d'étoiles!

Mais tu arrives trop tard.

L'armoire est vermoulue

et j'ai perdu la clé.

Même sans vent,


Tourne, mon cœur,

tourne, mon cœur.

Brises, gnomes et vents

venus de nulle part.

Moustiques de la rose

pétales en pyramides.

Vents alizés sevrés

parmi les rudes arbres,

flûtes dans la bourrasque,


De lourdes chaînes ancrent

mes souvenirs,

et captif est l’oiseau

qui dessine le soir

de ses trilles.

Les choses qui s'en vont jamais ne reviennent,

tout le monde le sait,

et dans la foule des vents

il est vain de se plaindre.

N'est-ce pas, peuplier, maître de la brise?

Il est vain de se plaindre!

Même sans vent,


Tourne, mon cœur,

tourne, mon cœur.

*Translated from the original « Gira Corazon », by Federico Garcia Lorca, 1920.

** I do not own the rights to this image.

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