Walking down the streets of The Hague, you have probably heard Sun playing in the streets before. You will hear him before you see him since his voice fills up the whole street. Although he stands with just his guitar and sings mostly old songs from the 1960s and 70s, he lights up the mood of everybody around, like his name promises. Getting to know him, he reveals that he has gone through struggles before becoming a street musician, but has found solace in it.
Sun is a street musician from The Hague, claiming to be the “oldest and longest playing”. Before playing on the streets he was a music teacher, owned a music store, and even worked as a musical therapist. A hard time in his life made him dramatically change everything, and switch to playing on the streets as a street performer. Although he liked his prior job he was “fed up standing in the service of other people”; he wanted to live his life completely for himself.
I reached the point that I couldn’t do it anymore, it became too much for me
Adapting to his new life was not easy. He had lost everything including his income, insurance, and house to name a few. Going from having a lot of certainties in his life to none at all was a challenge. At first, he wasn’t always welcome, he was robbed and had confrontations with others. After being robbed and not getting defeated by it, but working on it, the message spread on the street: “You better not rob that stupid motherfucking Chinese guy because he will come after you. And that is the truth: I will come after you”. Looking back at his journey he feels acomplished, like he succeeded in making his own life for himself.
Getting help from the organization Kessler stichting and paying off debt helped him feel like a member of society again and not like he was “stranded somewhere on the line of life”. Reiki, a form of meditation and (as he explains it) healing yourself and others by “harnessing the powers of the universe”, has helped him a lot in that time.
Playing music in the streets is not always nice. When talking to Sun he speaks of the injustice in the city. He is running three lawsuits at the moment. At our meeting he hands me a stack of papers, stapled together and in a clear case, but heavy and noticeably gone through over and over again. There are certain laws for public places that for example forbid playing with an amplifier in certain areas, but Sun felt treated unequal by the police sometimes. When he was getting started he was more rebellious, getting fined by the police, but standing his ground and knowing his rights, but nonetheless feeling like other musicians got favoured over him.
He is aware that going to court won’t change what already happened, but he is searching for a permanent solution. Despite the confrontations with the police he also feels respected by them. He says he earned the respect because he just kept going, showing up and giving the best he could. The policemen can relate that it is hard to be on the street in all weather conditions and with the crime that is happening. He earned respect by not acting up when he was confronted with racism and staying “good for himself” and being a gentleman and a person who tries to create love for other people. He has made himself known by playing with good quality and performance. Not only on the streets, but also at weddings, parties, and even funerals, which he says is the biggest honour. Most people fear playing in front of a big audience, but he says he loves it, it makes him feel good, wanted, successful, and happy that people can feel his music. Playing music for a living is hard, but Reiki again helps him with relaxing afterwards.
Reiki always came up again in the conversation I had with Sun. His dream job would be a combination of Reiki and music and he sees being a Reiki master as an “old age insurance” when he can physically not play on the streets anymore. Reiki was with him before he became a street musician and he is certain that his Reiki and personality has saved him from getting angry at the police. Reiki not only calms him in confrontations, but in the vision of Reiki everybody is connected, which is why when he stands on the streets alone he feels like everybody is his friends.
It happens that those “friends” also pay him. He says the thing is to have joy from your music and be happy with your music. Earning enough money is not something he worries about because he knows the audience will see how happy he is. He is convinced that “if you meet somebody on the streets and you just feel what they want you to feel, you will grab your wallet”.
The next time you are in The Hague and the voice of Sun reaches you, just tell him that you are happy because you have heard his music and you will make his day.