Bliss and Drumming: An Introduction

The house exists only in this dream. Smell of salt and sea, shade of mid-day. Nothing of street or sky, just a path to green lawn. Hard warm concrete gives way to soft clover, cradling my feet.

I toddle across the lawn. My legs are unsteadiness and resolve. A Bird of Paradise flies at the far edge and I’m pulled there. The flower bends level to my crown: brilliant orange, yellow, a stripe of red along the rippled edges. I hold it slick and weighty in my two hands. I tilt the tip of the petals toward my mouth.

A kind of honeysuckle rolls onto my tongue and down my throat, and with it, light. Warm, bright, radiant light falls like flavor into me, and finds exit through my pores and fingertips. Light shoots out, sweet liquid falls in and then light shoots out through any place it can find. What funny bright light this is. How far it shoots out of every place it can find. I hold up my hands to see. I know the bliss of a star.

My name is called. The light turns off. The flower nods in air and I toddle back toward the house.

I didn’t expect this. A hard rock drummer, and strange. I guess I’ve wasted my whole life trying to taste honeysuckle that way again. I remember the aura around the flavor but not quite the taste. I say honeysuckle because that name is the closest I can come up with, but the taste was miles deeper than any honeysuckle.

I guess I’ve wasted my whole life sleepwalking, no plan, just baffled and batted around by impulses, by my mind, my thoughts, my fears. Thinking if I tasted everything offered I would find that light again.

I guess I’m strange because it doesn’t seem like a waste.

I have a rent-control apartment, a daily meditation practice, three bands, three drumsets and a studio that is cluttered and dusty and which contains all that I own of value. I’m broke because I quit my day job. I’m pissed off that my jeans don’t fit. I’m stressed about the bands. I suspect that when people ask, what were your happiest moments, that not only was I trashed for every one of them, but that being trashed was part of what made me happy.

My body has revolted against me. I drank only green juice for one week and lost exactly one pound. It’s as if my metabolism were saying, fuck you and your shenanigans. When I was 24, I ate a pumpernickel bagel, grapes and steamed vegetables every day. I still thought I was fat. What was the point? I had this image of going through life and finally letting all this body stuff go, living in the true self, putting all those old patterns of thought away once and for all. Instead here they come, roaring back as if I were 13 years old again and spending days in misery over my thighs. If I had those thighs now, I would wear hot pants to an opera.

I thought by this point I would finally live in moderation, and take all the knowledge I’ve gained from those searching, wandering years and put it to use, finally become a grown up. I go for weeks, a month, so pure I have no use for deodorant: only raw foods and the right number of steps and Pilates and meditation and colonics and on and on. Every new and life-prolonging Whole Foods sniffing action, I’m on it. I meditate in the morning, bringing myself into my heart center and become truly at peace.

Later that night I trade $10 for a smoke from a bunch of heroin addicts in the park playing Grateful Dead songs and nursing their pit bull puppies. Grateful Dead song, the same first measure, over and over.

I have Matcha tea in the morning and put a little bit of coconut oil in there so I don’t get overloaded with the caffeine boost. Next week, I’ll drive 11 hours to a show in Portland and drink Red Bull and eat Power Bars to get up there. I’ll aim to tear into the drums like a gorilla, epically huge and powerful behind the kit. After the show, I’ll collapse in self-loathing when I see the gorilla come to life in a fan photo on Facebook. The pendulum swings so fatiguingly wide.

The thing is, there’s still that Bird of Paradise.

I used to think that if there was a heaven and a hell, then this reality is a version of hell. We get moments of bliss and then we forget how to find them.

I guess I have learned one thing. Heaven, Hell, Reality, Version. In bliss, these concepts dart away quick as a finch. Bliss is not Happiness. Happy is what the Self can be. Bliss is more.

When I first read about Buddhism, I got stuck on one concept, and it bothered me endlessly.

How can the loss of the Self equal happiness if what I do and whom I love is what makes me happy? How can drumming make me so happy and yet be wrong?

Then, I was at my second 10-day meditation retreat in the golden plains West of Dallas, and it was the seventh day. I was falling deeper into the center of myself, and as I did my pores opened and I started breathing out of my skin, becoming more and more insubstantial. A bird outside the window sang a song and the song blew through me like a breeze. The Self fell away. Only Bliss was there.

If I could say I lived in that space always, I would be a Buddha. I would have come home to the light of that honeysuckle. I’d probably never eat a donut again. Instead, I’m a rock drummer. Those few seconds of enlightenment shine like a small pinprick of light on a dark and noisy stage.

 

Hear me read this post here: https://soundcloud.com/clemthegreat/an_introduction?in=clemthegreat/sets/bliss-and-drumming

23 thoughts on “Bliss and Drumming: An Introduction”

  1. I like your style, Clementine!!! Duality of work and life for us is hard to explain. You’ve done a great job. Look forward to reading more as I’m workin harder on my journey too. The straight line between A and B ain’t always the right path. Linear is a new concept. Bests on your journey!

  2. Tus pensamientos delatan tu dulzura tu amor por la vida, la bateria es tu arbol de la vida. Tuspensamientos me llegaron a lo mas profundo, y pude ver tu esencia de amor hacia tu mundo, tu entorno sigue produciendo y entregandonos toda esta tu felicidad, tu amor eterno.
    Te quiero Clementina.

  3. Your thoughts betray your sweetness your love for life, the battery is your tree of life. Tuspensamientos I reached the depths, and I could see your essence of love to your world, your environment continues to produce and giving us all this your happiness, your eternal love.
    I love Clementina.

  4. I can relate because the depth of your Self was triggered at least in part by your fathers influence from Jethro Tull. That spirituality affected me and those like me much as it no doubt did him. Talk to him about that. Your greatness is surely in part due to that. Gloriousness. The expansion of the soul is amazing. Lifes a long song…may the drumbeat of your heart continue to take you to unimaginable heights. Cheers!

  5. Darling Clem, you are so much love and light! I remember seeing a picture of you so many years ago and having Jess say, that’s my sister and she plays the drums! I thought that was so cool. Years later, being able to watch you on stage is such a joy, and I look forward to seeing what you do next. Sending love and light to you always.

  6. Loved it Clem ! Very unique and genuine . I think we can all connect with you on this one .We share the same nasty metabolism and all of it’s evil mockery. My spirit is tested with every photo as well, and my organic healthy lifestyle comes to a screeching halt when I attend a Zepparella show and stay up way too late , partying like a Rock Star 😉 Love your Spirit … The flesh is weak , and the ashes will scatter …

  7. So much of what I can totally relate to. You’re not alone… except for the powerful prose of saying it the way you did.

  8. THE NIGHT SKY WAS BRIGHT
    YET SUBDUED AND DIFFUSE LIKE WARM CANDLE LIGHT

    THE STARS WERE TWINKLING THERE
    LIKE SUNLIGHT OFF SOFT GOLDEN HAIR

    THE FULL MOON’S RAYS SHONE DOWN
    LIKE A SATIN VEILED EARTHLY GOWN

    THIS FROM THE NIGHT MY EYE DREW
    AND BY THE MORNING LIGHT
    I THEN KNEW

    MHM–1995

    We aren’t so different you and I…the Eternal Light is every where and no where all at the same time…

  9. I’m a 63 yr old rock and roll drummer that, 20 yrs ago, had been described as a “Tired ole rock and roll drummer” by some big record producer in a recording studio in Chicago… Yup, tired ole rock and roll drummer. It was said in a way that might suggest I lay my sticks down and go take up residence in some drummer old folks home… LOL… Screw that. I still jam in a classic rock/southern rock/blues/country rock band. (Had to learn how to appease the masses.) In all actuality, I’m a blues drummer at heart. Anyway, I liked your thing on “Bliss”. Parts of it really hit home, and for that I wanted to say thank you for verbalizing what I feel when everything is… When the magic happens… Keep it real lil lady and thanks again… “Papa” John Pepple

  10. Holy Shit Lady! You are SO good at writing, whether it’s songs or prose you’re tapped into something special and you seem to find the best way to bring it to life.

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