Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Theme for an Imaginary Western - Part 2

Part 2: Conclusion (pt 1)/The beginning and a rough start


"Begin with the end in mind" - A smarter man than me once said that.

So bear with me while I conclude before we begin...

As we dive in to the deep end, it bears saying that I am basically a happy person, probably more so than most people you'll meet. I don't want you to imagine me out on some ledge somewhere.

That having been said, still I want to grow, and to search out the dark corners of my psyche to best self-actualize myself in the time I have left in this life.

So what became of me - in this experience in the Nevada desert - relates to what I am looking for in that search. A lot of people go to Burning Man simply to have a crazy fun good time, but for me it is a little different.

I remember many years ago having an exchange with a quiet student who had been studying with me for a long, long time. I said to him offhandedly one day in the course of a conversation that was music/life related: "…of course, I'm not a very spiritual person". He piped up and interrupted uncharacteristically, and said "You're the most spiritual person I know!"

Well, I don't know about that....but it helped me to readjust my thinking about myself afterwards. I was thinking about religion, he wasn't. He actually opened a door for me.

Lately I have been looking to create a stronger spiritual center for myself. A spiritual center includes - I think - a place for my 'baser' desires/lower chakras…whatever you want to call them. Not just sexual ones either. I had an epiphany on the plane back from Maui when I was reading about sex and the chakras in 'Be Here Now'.

That epiphany was this: that repressing those desires is as bad as - or worse than - overindulging them. Repression is not transcendance. Not that anyone actually said that to me, but I can testify to it because of the life I've lived.

Repressing your love for the people and passions in your life is worse still….the ultimate crime against yourself.

Repression was the law of the land as a military school cadet, and it stuck - big time. Except for the dormant seed that must have been waiting to propagate its weed inside, I was a freer spirit before my military school experience began. Yet life was so crushingly harsh there that the only way to make it through was to keep your head down and keep a low profile -- or -- take as many people out as you committed your own virtual suicide, kamikaze style. I chose the former.

The thing I didn't realize then was that the head-down style is also a form of virtual suicide. Assassinating the self to keep peace in the situation is not wholesome.

In the recent past I have been looking at my life, and examining hard to gain perspective about what the things are that hold me back and how I can address those things to move into a more self-expressed place.

Mission: to conquer those old patterns and habits….
Status: ongoing.

This has led me to a couple of conclusions in that regard -- and conclusion number one is that I have a problem with inauthenticity. We all do things where we are inauthentic, and there's no problem…'yes that dress looks fine/no you don't look fat/nice performance'......whatever. That's the human condition.

Lately though, I have become very aware of how it permeates much of the actions that I do - and don't - take. My freedom is compromised. Plus a lot of it is inward, meaning I lie to myself about what I want and need - probably to avoid the discomfort of not having it, the fear of trying and failing, or the dishonor of not having provided it. The subject can be anything: friends, relationships, success -- you name it.

Conclusion 2 is that the negative effect of old patterns in my life are, at times, making me live small. For example, I have a pattern of not entering into relationships of different types (business/romantic/friendship/etc.) because of the possible downsides, and especially since I have all this hard data about how wrong they've gone for me in the past. Aggregate result: life unlived.

To look at the way these patterns work, you have to also look at not only the downsides, but what the 'benefits' are - because whether one knows it or not, there are perceived upsides. For instance, in the pattern I just described, there is the perception of safety and/or control that is an 'upside'.

And that segues into the third conclusion also stemming from fear. I tend to hold court on my own turf.

For example, you come to my space in New York City, and you're likely to say "This is amazing" -- There are cool views, and it's a cool space. I'll play you a little snippet of one of my projects, and the sound system and composing is likely to impress you. Down the hall I've got a great Steinway which I can play pretty well, and as I show you around, I'll usually play enough to prove myself.

The other day a friend came by for the first time, and as I was playing her my newest project, she said "Who hooked all this up for you?", and was quite stunned to hear that I did it - and understood it all - myself. That's one I hadn't even thought about.

It's a good setup (click to enlarge):

But what would it feel like to plunk myself down in the middle of the Nevada desert, having traveled there all alone, without any of those props that I have in my life? What would it be like to just get real, with some people I've never met? Work without a net. Could I even do it? How .... and/or ... will they accept me?

ON THE ROAD: August 30th, 2010 11:30 PM
Well, I will tell you....that as I barreled down interstate 80 - alone - into the pitchblack darkness of the Nevada countryside at 70+ MPH headed East, for god-knows-where, with no destination in mind and Dave Matthews screaming "Don't Drink the Water" on the CD player turned up to 11......I felt the kind of fright you feel watching the buildup in a thriller movie as I bolted into the desert night.

When I landed earlier in the sleepy Reno Airport at 10:18 PM...

...I was very happy to find a wonderful little Burning Man booth set up in the airport, and I had a long conversation with one of the women manning the booth. "What was the camping like?" I asked her, "do you just stay next to your car?" Since I still had a day left when I would be gathering supplies and I had to fend for myself inexpensively overnight, I asked, "were there any truck stops where you can just stay in your car overnight?". They talked amongst each other and asked around to people in earshot and had some vague ideas.

'This is really great', I thought. 'Everyone's so friendly'.

As I'm talking, I catch the eye of the attendant at the car rental place that I'm going to. 'Isn't this nice' I think, they're right there, 'yay!' When walk over to her, I see that at this vendor, (and every vendor there, since they are all clumped together) there are big handwritten signs that say "You cannot take our cars to Burning Man." Big fees will be incurred for those that do.

I just traveled 2000 miles to come to this thing, and you didn't tell me this until now?

Fuck that.

"What brings you to Reno?" the rental woman says, having just seen me at the BM booth.

"I'm visiting friends."

"Uh, huh…..", she says, a little skeptical.

Dodged a bullet there...I think...saying it out loud definitely won't help.

Her: "Do you want the insurance? We recommend full coverage on the replacement cost of the car."


Her: "here are your keys, your car is in parking spot h-8"

So with that, I enter into the perilous waters of taking a car to a place it shouldn't go. I don't like this feeling - I don't like this one bit…insurance won't cover situations where there was a breach of contract. I'm sure of that.

As I go down the freeway, I decide that I will stop at a place where I can ask if there are any truck stops nearby. On the East coast they are big sprawling busy places where you can just pull up and sleep in a dark corner.

Once out in the Nevada countryside, I walk into the store off of exit 39 - it's open, but completely deserted. Weird. Were they just robbed or something? I hear noises from another room, and when I go in, I'm looking at 5 of the scariest looking guys I've seen in a long time, and one - to me at least - very unattractive bar fly type woman standing at a pool table in a smoke filled room. One lone guy plays a slot machine intensely in the corner, not bothering to look up.

I stand there - for what seems like an eternity - looking at them before someone speaks up:


"Um, I was wondering if you knew where there was a truckstop nearby, or a place where I could get something to eat?"

"Well, there's a Wendys at exit 43."
the angriest guy says.

"Anything else?"

The woman pipes in about something in the other direction, and I like her idea a little better.

Hearing me perk up, the angry guy interjects, modulating loudly, "WELL, WHICH WAY ARE YOU GOING?"

Yes I'm intimidated. The real answer is "I don't give a shit, anywhere is there some non-crap food"...

"Uh, east." I say.

So I end up at the Wendys -- awful. I stand in line behind a bunch of high school kids who are talking about their lives - and eavesdropping, I take in the conversation. One of them shows this really bad wound he has on his hand. He's proud of it, and loves trying to gross out his friends.

In his defense, it is pretty disgusting.

Even though they're blocking me and not really moving forward, they ignore me completely. There's a 'you-ain't-from-around-here' vibe in the air. I get this really depressed feeling. 'This is deadendsville', I think. The food is AWFUL. Even for a Wendy's. As hungry as I am, I can barely choke it down. Finally I find a rest stop on the Interstate and hunker down for a night in the car. It is SO cold, and I don't have enough clothes to get warm, even taking everything out I've got with me.

It's summer, so I've got no hat, no scarf, 2 pairs of long pants and a few shirts, but only one of which is long sleeve. Yes, I've been watching the NV forecasts in this area, but this wasn't on the menu. I'm in trouble, I think. Good thing I'll be getting supplies in Reno, I'm making a mental note to get some long underwear and a scarf and hat.

I end up sleeping in fits and starts using one of my t-shirts as a scarf, and the other as a makeshift hat. Thankfully I'm still retaining my sense of humor, and so I keep laughing at how uncomfortable I am. I've made a promise to myself not to run the car for heat, and I don't, since I'm not going to have that luxury when I get out to Black Rock. I want to know what I'm up against.

Middle of the night, going a little mad, suffering through the cold:

Man, this is going downhill fast....

The next morning when I come into Reno for supplies, it's rainy and depressing. Everyone's out of things. Almost everything is a challenge, or way too much money, or too far, whatever. Sears, where I've bought a cooler I'm planning to throw away at the end doesn't have a knit cap or long underwear for God's sake! I finally give up. Fuck It.

Spoiler alert #1: that was not a good idea.

I post all this to my facebook page, and when comments are forthcoming I get the idea fast that my people are worried about me. Whoops, 'it's not that bad, guys', I write to placate the worry I've just stirred up. Plus the sun has just come out, which helps - a lot.

However...I'm really itching to get to Black Rock City.

So I decide: that's it, I'm going - NOW. Forget about everything else, forget about the time (it's too early and they'll likely hold you in a staging area and then send you to the end of the line). I don't care, I want to see the landscape before dark, I'll deal with whatever happens.

So by 6 PM I'm on the road east headed for the playa.
['playa' is defined in the dictionary as an area of flat, dried-up land, esp. a desert basin from which water evaporates. This playa was an ancient lake bed. By the way, it's not pronounced 'play'-ah, it's pronounced 'ply'-ah.]

I get to a small town called "Empire" which is about 20 miles from the venue, and my mood lifts suddenly. There is a big party going on. People are dancing in the highway, Everyone has a piercing, or dreadlocks, or tattoos, and it's just fun.

A truck drives by towing a vehicle that looks like a cow.... ....and I KNOW I'm in the right place.

This is COOL. There are vendors.

One crusty local type tries to sell me 'Black Rock Wine'. 30$. "I'll think about it." I say as nicely as I can. "Yeah right" the guy says, being rather condescending. No problem, nothing's going to screw up this moment, I think.

I start talking to a girl and asking her about whether I should go on. She says. "no, no - just hang out - You're going to piss people off if you show up early, and nobody wants that". So for about an hour I bide my time, just sitting in the car….but then I'm antsy, and decide to move on - at least to the next town - which is called "Gerlach" and is about 12 miles from the venue.

I meet a woman vendor who lives in Gerlach that says "I heard a rumor that they're letting people in early this year." She's selling bikes for $50, which they refurbish each year for the event, but I don't have a bike rack on the car so I can't do it. Sure wish…

Spoiler alert #2: You need a bike at this place.

But thats all I need to know. I'm outta here...

I head down to the gate, where the road begins, and just as I'm arriving at the turnoff...... I hear a very loud bang, when a rock hits the bottom of the car. "That was loud", I think, but the car keeps moving so I put it out of my mind. When get to the gate where the greeters are I shift into park, and hear a VERY loud thump...

I try it again. Loud thump. Once more, loud thump. It becomes like the tooth where the cavity fell out and you can't keep your tongue off of it. I keep trying this shift. Something's definitely busted.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Uh Oh.... " You cant end with Uh Oh.... cmon it was just getting good.... Damn it now I have to go do something productive.