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Filed in Episode 3 by on May 23, 2017 0 Comments

I wrote this originally as an email to my fellow students on the Ashridge Master’s in Sustainability and Responsibility. It was just a moment’s inspiration but it connected with quite a few people. I thought it might be worth sharing with a wider group.

Saturday morning. I was doing my round of food shopping, which brought me as usual to the bridge over the Prinsengracht (canal), where, as usual, a clarinetist (of Balkan, probably Roma origins) was playing. Well, not quite as usual, because the accordion player who usually accompanies him, was not there. There’s quite a lot of these guys to be found busking at various spots around town but this one is really good. I walked past, stopped, fished some coins out of my pocket and went back to lay them on his case – because he was good and his music brightened my day. He brought something of his culture and offered it to mine. A woman stood on the other side of the road just listening. I walked on. After all, I had things to do.

So, OK, I gave him some money and he was busking, so that was clearly relevant. But she was really complimenting his music by staying and listening and, in a way being part of the performance.

And that made me think of this Joni Mitchell song:

The more I thought about what Joni sings, the more relevant it seemed to what we were studying – or perhaps more to why we were studying. I think it reflects (and therefore brings into question) much of our (we humans) relationship with ourselves, with each other and with the rest of the planet – of gift versus exchange value, of status versus communion.




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