Ben Jon Miller
Created and performed by Ben Jon Miller
Performed throughout the streets of Seoul, South Korea
As kids, most of us were uninhibited and more prone to being as we naturally like to be. It was easier, if not automatic, to just be ourselves. Then we get older. We are taught by the words and examples of others that "we should do this" or "we shouldn't do that". We become less of ourselves and more of who others want us to be. We do this to be loved, to be safe, to avoid embarrassment, to fit in, to avoid pain.
This subtle self-repression accumulates over the years and we end up in a prison of self-imposed limitations. We lose the energy and joy that comes naturally to most children. We become stifled. We feel restricted. Maybe we don't like ourselves or the world around us. Sometimes life may seem pointless or overwhelming.
If we have moments when we stop restricting ourselves, when we are being who we really are, we feel a sense of freedom. Inspiration, curiosity, joy, and love reenter our life, if only for an instant. When these qualities return, life feels worthwhile again. It is easier to feel connected to life, ourselves, and others.
When I do street performances, I wear a white dress and white face paint. I stagger, wiggle, and dance along the streets while singing in varied states of self-induced wonder, confusion, and humor. I allow myself to do things I normally don't do because they would appear insane. I aim to be as dumb and silly as I can. While I am doing this, there's a voice in my head that says, "HEY! You can't do this! This is absurd and they are looking at you like you are a madman! Put on some clothes, close your mouth." To gently ignore this voice and act despite it, with playfulness, scares me. I had the urge to do these performances for two years but put it off because it made my stomach cringe when I thought about the embarrassment. But that is exactly why it feels freeing. To do what I think I cannot do or shouldn't do is enormously liberating.
I do these performances to give myself this experience and to share it with others. I want to reactivate in my life those qualities of silliness, joy, love, and wonder. One of my wishes for these acts is that those who encounter me might also experience those same qualities and that we might be able to share them together.