I woke up with this thought in my head: that no matter how complicated something is, if there is truth to it, somehow we can’t help but respond to the essence of the thing. I think about that when I have attempted reading James Joyce. When I listen to Tony Williams play drums. When I read about physics. Even if my brain doesn’t understand it, my body does. The beauty of the words, the spider web of rhythm, the barely understood but evocative concepts, in these things I let go of words and concepts and just experience the light of the thing itself.
Then, the Beatles. The complexity of their music is in the perfection of the writing and arrangements, yet the truth is so universal their music touched nearly every person on the planet.
I watched the Ron Howard documentary about The Beatles, and it was a blast. I thought I would have seen most of the footage before, but there were all kinds of things I didn’t know or hadn’t seen. It was about their touring years, and you see them get worn down by the stress of it over time.
The powerful thing to me in watching them is how truly they were in a magic flow, and how their connection to each other was the raft on which they rode the wave. As I watched, I kept getting teary, not about the Beatles, but about bands.
I love a band. I love a small group of people forging their way through the landscape, experiencing their days together. I love that you can feel the intangible connection, and the mystery of that moment after everything has been loaded and the van door shuts and what happens then. Heading to the hotel and starting in on the recap, filling out and sharing the experience together in the way every band does. I love the instinctual protection that forms in a band, and the secret language that develops.
I have gotten to be in great bands in my life. With one of them, we lived in a car together and truly did forge our way across the landscape. I guess I learned in that band the limits of what can hold together and what breaks apart.
What else has being in bands taught me? The first I guess is communication, and how speaking from truth and with love can ease even the most difficult message. Being so close with others, traveling and working and creating, has made me more compassionate. When you get that close you can’t help but see how each person fights their own battles, just like you.
Being in bands has taught me how to truly give myself over to joy; the joy of connection, the gratitude of being able to count on others, and I see that even through the complicated webs of personality and struggle, there is this basement of truth that keeps us lightened and functioning.
You know me, I’m always looking for meaning in this life. I am obsessed with seeing the purpose of why we are here, and what does this illusion-like reality have to teach me?
I look at the bands in my life, and the lessons I learn. The band of family, and how they teach me unconditional love, how to accept it and how to live it. The musical bands, and their lessons of communication and cooperation. The bands of my friends, and their lessons of open-heartedness and kindness.
I expand this idea. There is the band of neighbors, whose dogs know my dog and who I chat with or nod to as I rush through my days. The band of San Franciscans, of which I am a part: maybe their lesson to me is how to monitor my road rage. The band of Californians, of which I am a part, and the weight of history, with all of our Hotel California dreams of what could be, and of what was. The band of Americans, coming together as the ground moves under our feet and we are forced to further define our union. The band of human beings, and the lesson of the great gift of this life. The band of planetary beings, and the symbiosis of working with all species for the benefit of all.
It’s just physics, in a way. The small group is an expression of the larger. We look at the particles and they are universes below our vision, reflecting the mirror of sky we gaze up to see. I love the idea that the universe is a hologram, and that each part contains the whole. This is a thrilling concept to my intellect.
But there is something else I have been thinking about quite a bit, lately. What if the hologram is not a strict illusion, but like an illusion. We are real, but not in the way we believe. What if we are energy, not matter, and the energy can’t help but be connected physically with every other energy body we interact with? When we look at the matter that think of as ourselves under a microscope, we disappear. As we look further and further into what makes us up we end up coming down to a lot of “dark energy” and tiny particles swinging around in a vast expanse of space. So when I say we are energy, it’s not a “woo woo” statement, but as far as we know, truth.
So then when I’m in the van, and we are traveling and laughing and connecting, there is a way of looking through the complications of matter and separateness and then the lesson seems to be, we are One. We’re a bubble of energy traveling down a hologram of reality reflecting an illusion of thought.
Again, this complicated idea has truth to it. Though I don’t understand the complexity, there is truth in that statement that rings the bell in the center of what I would call my self.
Tomorrow morning, I’m going to get in the van with Gretchen and we’re going to drive 10 hours to Vegas, where we’ll meet up with Noelle and Angeline and play music and drive and laugh and when the door of the van shuts, we’ll have the illusion that it’s us against the world for a little while, and that our little band is apart from it all. On stage, I’ll close my eyes and feel the connection, spread it out, expand the energy of the drums into the audience, above the venue, across the landscape and imagine the whole world a band of energy, and as I play I will send my energy to travel across the hologram of planet.
As I feel myself really here, really connected, I seem to expand and the borders I feel between myself and others drop away. What would it be like to live completely openly, without the barrier of ego? What would it be like to have as my purpose the goal to spill my energy into the heart of all I can reach?
Wherever I get with that in the next 24 hours, tomorrow night as we spill out of the van and start loading the gear into the venue, I’ll be ready to rock.
You can hear me read this here: https://soundcloud.com/clemthegreat/here-there-and-everywhere