As a bagpiper (it’s one of the things I do in my small business, EssexArt ABC, LLC) I just finished doing many performances during a long, fun-filled, St. Patrick’s Weekend in Indianapolis. It’s been a couple of days now since my last performance on Monday, March 18 (yes… the day after St. Patrick’s Day) and my body is still a little sore and fatigued. The weekend performances started on Friday, March 15 in the morning at an historic downtown Indianapolis private club, The Antelope Club, that opened its doors for revelers to start their day before the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade. That parade always occurs in Indianapolis on a week day and since the holiday fell on Sunday this year, Friday was parade day. After having some Murphy’s Irish Stout (the good people who sponsored many of my performances during the weekend bring that fine product to the Indianapolis area) and bagpiping to an appreciative crowd at “The Lope”, I joined in with Antelope Club members who had a parade unit and marched in the parade. Or maybe I should say marched in the cold, windy, misty and… COLD parade (I really don’t think I expressed enough how bitingly COLD the parade was). Of course I played my bagpipes the whole way, but about half-way through the parade my fingers were numb and it seemed my bagpipe reeds were frozen and mad at me for being so demanding of them, like an irritated Chihuahua after fetching the same ball for the 378th time … but on I marched and played. Why? Because the cold, bundled-up parade watchers smiled, cheered, applauded and appeared to be genuinely appreciative.
Appreciative, that’s the word and description that inspired this blog entry in the first place. At each of my bagpiping performances before, during and after the parade on Friday… and at all performances on Saturday… and Sunday… and the one on Monday… I had a wonderful time and encountered countless nice and appreciative people. There I was, just a regular guy… yes, kilted, sporting more green beads than Mt. T has gold necklaces… and playing bagpipes… but really just a regular guy, but was continually humbled by friendly people who came up and nicely asked, “Can I (or we) get a picture with you?” I’ve got to admit, I’m always a little surprised when I’m asked and there is a part of me that feels I should respond with, “Who me? YOU want a picture with ME?”, then look around to see to whom they are REALLY speaking… but it’s always me. Without exception I am always humbled, and thrilled, to be asked for this picture request. Of course I gladly comply 100% of the time. Truth be known, I love getting pictures with people who are allowing me to be a part of their happy celebration. Those nice people always convey how appreciative they are of my bagpiping and getting a picture with me. I honestly can’t imagine that any of them have an inkling of how much they have made my day better by their inquiry. Sure, I try to convey it, but it is simply not possible to communicate, in such short time, how much my day is brightened by them.
After the holiday weekend performances and parading was over and I was waking up the next day with a sore back, aching legs and with my throat and lips feeling as if I just blown up enough character balloons to fill the next eight Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parades, my mind went to the many requests for photos with me. Those nice people conveyed how glad they were I was a part of their day by their request. I suspect, no matter how I try, I’ll never be able to convey to them the truly deep-felt, lasting, appreciative thankfulness I have for them and how much better they made my days.
Thank you nice people for being nice people.
(Just a few of the photos are shown below)
~ John Essex II is a retired art teacher, a two-time Lilly Teacher Creativity Fellow and an Arts Council of Indianapolis Creative Renewal Arts Fellow. He is also artist/owner of EssexArt ABC, LLC through which he keeps busy creating his own fine art, creates commissioned art, does caricaturing by commission and at special events, conducts private painting parties and is contacted regularly to play the bagpipes (yes… play the bagpipes). Essex also maintains an online print-on-demand store where patrons can acquire gallery quality giclée prints of his art as well as other products that feature his work.