[box] VICTORIOUS- Is a series of stories written by women who have overcome obstacles and were strengthened by them. Not only do these courageous women share their stories with us, they detail how they overcame so that those who are seeking can become overcomers too.[/box]
Name: Natalia ‘Saw Lady’ Paruz
Location: NY, New York
I was an aspiring musician. I discovered I have a love for busking – performing in public spaces. Sharing my music with random passers-by fulfills me like nothing else. I get to have many of the pleasures of a hostess without the bother and expense of entertaining: to have people come & go & stop to talk with me, some of them friends, many strangers and interesting. When one performs in public spaces, smiling is contagious – I am not sure if it is I who makes the passers-by smile, or if it is their smiling at me which makes me smile.
All I wanted was to share my music with people where people are – in public spaces. When I first started doing this I was one of only a handful of women performing in the subway (even today it is still mostly men who do so). When I started performing at the Times Square subway’s mezzanine there was a group of break-dancers who gave me a hard time. They wanted to force me out of my busking spot and take it over. They would hover around me (there were 10 of them and only one of me), turn on their loud-speaker high, and be obnoxious towards me. I held my ground, but day after day they gave me a hard time. There were 10 of them and only one of me. They were bullies. I was afraid of them, but determined not to show it. They were known for giving a hard time to lots of musicians.
One day as I was playing and they were bothering me, a break-dancer from a different group walked by and came to say hello to me.
He asked me, “Do you know why they are giving you a hard time?”
I said, “I guess because they want my spot?”
He said, “Not only – it’s because they think you are a racist.”
“What?,” I exclaimed “That is so not true! How did they come up with such a ridiculous idea?”
“They think you hate them because they are black & you are white,” he told me. “I know it isn’t true but it doesn’t matter if it’s true or not – that is what they think. The only thing you can do is prove to them you are not racist.”
That was a great bit of information for me – a huge help. As I was playing at the Times Square subway station I tried to come up with a way to prove to the menacing break-dancers who were watching me that I am not racist, like they erroneously think of me. I knew reasoning with them would accomplish nothing. I had to SHOW them (not TELL them) who I am.
As I was playing, I deliberately turned my attention to engaging African-American passers by. The break-dancers began to notice the multitudes of African-American people who stopped to talk with me and congratulate me on my music. I was getting a point across to the menacing break-dancers – not only that I am not prejudiced, but that I am liked by African-Americans, that other African-Americans don’t think I am prejudiced.
Finally, a drunk man (who happened to be African-American) came over and was really giving me a hard time. I treated him with respect and answered him with good humor and kindness. The break-dancers were sure I would break down with him. But I didn’t, and at the end the drunk man extended his hand to shake mine and said “You’re all right, Saw Lady!” When the break-dancers saw that I was approved of even by this guy, they were convinced – I am one of them. Their attitude towards me changed completely and they became my friends. I didn’t need to tell the good news to anybody – the break-dancers told everybody in the subway that ‘Saw Lady’ is all right. Word travels fast in the subway. All of a sudden I had lots of new friends.
This was 18 years ago, and I am happy to say we are still friends today. No more giving me a hard time, no more trying to kick me out of my busking spot.
If you want to succeed, then diligence, application and cheerful persistence pay off. Find out the cause of the problem, and accept that it is what it is, even if you disagree. Then set out to correct it. An ounce of deeds is worth a pound of verbal argument. Patience – if what you feel truly matters, then you will endure. Life never stands still. Wait, and see what unfolds.
See the Saw Lady Perform On The New York Subway or visit her website at SawLady.Com