I asked myself a question. What do you seek? I’ve asked it of myself many times before and until recently would have answered something like ‘Inner Peace’ or ‘peace of mind’ or ‘to be happy’ or ‘to feel alive!’ and it struck me yesterday that what this translates into is Freedom. Freedom from all those irritating self-imposed habits, foibles, prejudices etc. Or at least the freedom to choose to be free from them or not. It’s like we’re in a kind of sleep, behind glass. I’m not the first to notice this! Persig talks about the difference between riding a motorbike and driving a car in terms of your experience of the world. Riding is like being PART of the landscape. You’re there, in the moment, experiencing it, not merely observing it as you do behind the window of a car. It’s the same with gigs... and once in a while the patch.
Many years ago I vowed, never willingly to go to a gig and SIT ever again. It always felt afterwards like I’d just watched it on the big screen... probably because, at least in part these days, you can end up literally watching it on the big screen if you’re not in the thick of it. OK, so you might catch a whiff of the atmosphere, but you’re not IN the picture... not unless you’re wedged like sardines with thousands of other bodies. Not unless you feel the push and shove, duck the crowd surfers, get swept into the circle pit, smell and taste the sweat of countless strangers, see into the eyes of the band, feel the bass pounding in your chest, the cool breeze from the on stage fans, reach for half a cup of water among the swirling sea of arms and horns and pumping fists, scream at the top of your lungs every word you can manage, even though you never hear the sound that comes out above the throng of everything else. It’s like you’re IN the sound, part of it. You’re not you anymore. You’re part of some big ‘thing’. You are, if I can get a lil Zen for a moment, at one with the band, the crowd, the whole thing. You are alive! In the moment. There.
And afterwards, it stays with you... for a while... this affirmation of being... and yet when somebody asks you about it, you’re lost for words. You can’t explain WHY it felt as it did, just that it was... ‘something special’. After one recent gig, a friend of mine who was with me up at the front said “It’s weird, I can’t remember a single song from beginning to end. I can remember bits of various ones, but not one from start to finish”. It’s true. It’s like you get swept up in the moment. You live it there and then. I had other friends at the gig who were seated. Their perspective was different; they KNEW what songs were played and in what order. They knew what the band did for the encore. They could rewind and replay it in their minds. We couldn’t, because we WERE it and I came to the conclusion that THAT is how life SHOULD be! Being IN the moment. Today I was reminded of this again... for just a little while.
I am watching a Fox sneaking up on a small flock of Canada Geese on the other side of the lake from where I’m sitting. I can see his fur blowing gently in the wind... the same wind I’m feeling on my face, warm from the west carrying with it the smell of woodsmoke... The same smell the Fox detects as it lifts its head and sniffs the air. The geese spot him and start to cackle, moving towards the water and safety. We all hear them together, me, the Fox, the gull overhead and the Jackdaws in the nearby tree. A Heron rises on lazy wingbeats as the geese approach. The gull jinks and we all take note. A cloud covers the sun momentarily and suddenly it cools. I feel it on my neck, the Fox’s fur pricks up and the geese ruffle their feathers as they enter the water. We’re all part of the same picture, all reacting to the same sensations. For a moment... a fleeting moment, there’s just ‘it’... that ‘something’ that isn’t the lake, the wind, the Fox, the cool, the noise, the geese or me.