I'd like to say that every experience I have playing music is some life altering, blissful time warp where there's nothing but love and light but that's just not true. most of the time I have to work through my own shadows parts and remember to keep trying to open my heart. I come face to face with so much anger, and shame sometimes that it becomes hard to look at people let alone sing or play. During these times I'm forced to sit with such excruciatingly uncomfortable bodily sensations that I want to crawl out of my skin, bow down in shame and choose another profession....preferably one where no one can see can me. It's funny though, those painful feelings never last, or if they last the whole time I play, tomorrow usually brings another different experience or not. Sometimes the theme of the week is shame, or anger, or insecurity. It really tests every part of me to keep playing music when those sensations arise. I can keep feel my body fuming as I sit there. I look for people to look at me weird so I can let the tiger out of the cage and unleash my fury upon them.....I say all this while also knowing that there is a part of me that only wants to do good and be kind to other people no matter they reflect back to me.
Yesterday, it all came up. First of all I was tired because I haven't been sleeping too well and so that left me feeling pretty vulnerable and on edge. Next, a nice gentleman who saw me the previous say playing was in the spot I was going to take again and I could feel the screws turning inside just a little more. I kept my calm and paced up and down State Street here in downtown Santa Barbara trying to find somewhere where I could settle in....no dice. I knew I was just going to have to choose a place to no matter how uncomfortable I felt. I landed here:
This spot was on a different block than the one I had played the previous night. It felt like I was stepping into a whole other dimension. I wasn't sure how restaurant owners were going to treat me, if shop owners were going to protest, or if passerby's were going to shoot me intimidating glances. As stated: I was already starting the day from a vulnerable, somewhat scared, and negative place. Often times when I'm in a new place, all of these things come up and it's just a matter one putting one foot in front of the other, setting my shit down, setting up all of my gear, and just breathing turning away all thoughts and just focusing on the moment. Otherwise, I'd probably get overwhelmed and talk myself out of playing. Sometimes, it's different, and I'm cool, calm, and collected, confident that I'm doing is of the highest value and nothing can knock me off my rock. Those feelings though can quickly turn to arrogance which also feels like shit because they're not grounded. There's some happy medium that is the sweet spot. It's a place where there are no mistakes in music or interaction. It's an open meadow where we can all just play together. I meet myself there from time to time and only wish to share that place with as many humans as possible. I make myself vulnerable on purpose and invite others into that space. It can look like a goofy ass note that I try to sing that falls on it's face, or a solo section on the guitar that my hands are scared to play out of fear of making mistakes. I do it anyway, and slowly something opens up. No longer do I care about perfection in me or anyone else. That space has infinite potential! my hand glide around the guitar fearless, my eyes glance towards others with look of mercy and love for all, my smile meets another's smile and we take each other in in a space of total surrender. These are the moments I live for and why there's no greater life than this one for me.
Anyhow, back to yesterday....while I wasn't feeling great to start out with, and was also battling myself, good things still happened. There was a woman on a bike who kept riding past me. We'd look at each other each time and smile. She finally stopped and talked to me about what I was doing....she expressed her gratitude, spoke briefly about her mom's birthday gift and was on her way. There was another woman who sat down in front of me and we just looked at each other while I played. There was nothing sexual about it, it was as if what I was doing was meeting some place inside of her and we just sat there together in that space for a while. She left, and waved to me as she did, moving on with her life. Over the course of an hour there were 20 or so small interactions where people expressed they're appreciation for what I was doing. It's weird though that my brain though has a bias towards negativity. There were some other moments that really threw me off, and made me pretty sad. A shop owner telling me he was paying someone to play out front of his shop and that I'd need to stop soon. Something about the way he said "No offense" made me feel small and unappreciated. I wanted to tear his head off and throw his remains in the bushes out front of where I was playing (I'm processing my anger).
After that moment with that restaurant owner, the night kind of took a dive and I couldn't recover. I felt unloved, unappreciated, and a lot of doubt about my path. I contemplated just driving home and quitting. Fortunately, I've met these feelings so many times that I know they're only temporary. As much as I fucking hate feeling the way I did, I knew it was just a storm blowing through. So I kept playing through my shame, neediness, sexual lust, anger, and fear. I still managed to look up, try new songs, and iron out some old ones. Did I feel good again last night? No. But I was proud of myself that I kept going. That I was strong enough to work with my internal experience as painful as it was and just keep going. I'm learning to love myself through it all. Fuck, sometimes it's hard. I hate feeling insecure, shame, anger, lust. I'm seeing though that all of these places need my attention and care. I can not hate myself into loving myself. It's really the sensations that drive me up the wall. I get to a point each day where I don't think I can take anymore. And I breathe. And I breathe again. And I fucking curse the sky......and I breathe again. Then I go out and play. Sometimes these friends are here all day. and sometimes they're replaced by other experiences. It's Thursday and again I'll go out with this human experience heavy on my heart. I'll try again and just see what happens. If I'm greeted by more shame then ok. I wont like it but I can accept that that's just where I am. This is my life in a nutshell. Will it always be this way? I don't know. Would I have it any other way? No. I can feel it all, and if I can feel it all in myself, then I can feel it all in other people. This allows me a spectacular ability to intuit and feel the world around me. Which makes me a pretty damn good musician, lover, friend, and human being. I can see what people need and what they're emotional state is just by looking and feeling. This is a gift that I'm slowly learning to use for the greater good of humanity.
FYI......the card that is up at the top of this post was put in my case a little while back on a day I wasn't particularly feeling well. Goes to show that even on the worst internal days, the world can reflect back love anyways :)