20100208

a week of may outside LA


So I recently finished a one month tour with my friend Michael Morris's newest project, Dewi Sant. I can say, without a shred of hyperbole, that it was one of the best months of my life. It was a last-minute endeavour; the band's usual bass player backed out at the last minute, and the drummer, my friend Arlen, suggested me as a stand in. The timing of the whole thing just fell into place; I had a software consulting contract starting the week after the tour ended, leaving me just enough time to fly out to DC and get situated before diving into the project. Without getting into a metaphysical discussion, it was definitely one of those providential moments that felt like it was "meant to be".

It couldn't have gone better.

It seems like the first thing everyone asks me is "Did you all get along? Were there any fights?" Yes, we all got along. No, there were no fights. I don't think I've ever met a group of such considerate, well-adjusted people in my life. Sure, there were moments of stress and tried-patience, but these moments were recognized as such and accommodated for accordingly. There was a protective bubble of Midwestern politeness enveloping the band.

It's easy to forget what a rewarding--if not difficult--experience being thrust into a completely unfamiliar situation can be. Jumping into a van with six people--five of whom you've never met--certainly qualifies as such an experience. It is in these situations, full of novelty and uncertainty, that truly lasting memories are made. I've grown as a person as much in the last 30 days as I have in the previous 12 months. I suppose I'm channelling Terrence McKenna here, but I think the modern, ego-centric, personally isolated lifestyle that we've developed as a technological society can lead to a sense of personal entitlement that is often unhealthy and destructive.

The cure? That which McKenna terms the "archaic revival": a return to a (more) pre-technological, nomadic lifestyle.
Forgive me for getting a little McKibben-esque, but the evolution of our technology has surpassed the evolution of our human mind. It is this discrepancy, I think, that leads to the sense of dysphoria that we all feel at one time or another. Another visionary, Dr. Tim Leary, once observed that "the space you occupy determines the time that you live in. To move into new space is the only way that new realities can be created, and the fastest way that future nervous systems can be activated." An Econoline van affords little--if any--personal space or privacy. This breakdown of space has profound effects on your sense of self and interpersonal relationships. I've experienced this before, during a week spent at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. The bonds of friendship forged in such trying circumstances are not soon broken. I'd lie down in fucking traffic for any of these friends.

I feel sad now that the tour is over. But this, I suppose, is a good thing; this bittersweet feeling lets me know how lucky I was to be there. I keep coming back to one word to describe how I feel: thankful. I feel so damned thankful to have experienced everything that I did. From the shivering weirdness of Austin in January, to the soul-renewing warmth of southern California, to the pastoral simplicity of two days spent at Holden Village in remote Washington, I experienced as much beauty in the space of one month as many experience in their entire life. I don't deserve this.



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