After a couple months off in what has been a continuing process of life in general, I stepped back out to play music. Portland is a city I’m somewhat familiar with. I played there a few years back. Admittedly, there was a lot still happening internally as I pulled all my gear from my truck. I felt heavy, sad, and nervous. While I’ve played through all these feelings before, it’s still somewhat difficult to navigate these internal experiences and manage to get out and play. One thing that has been happening that is different though and something I remember from a few years back is to simply accept that this is where I am and that in this place there is also love. Love for myself and love for the world. The thoughts are what they are but the energy is here and the energy can be transmuted by simply allowing. Easier said than done….sometimes I want to crawl out of my skin. Either way though, when it’s time to play there’s either a choosing of fear or love. Even love for my painful experience. When touching upon whatever state is here, there’s a softening, an allowing. From that springs an openness to the present moment. While I would rather feel a blissful existence I wonder if this is just conditioning…to favor one experience over another. What I would like to think is that every state of human consciousness can be used for a portal of greater love. I can feel that being true even if there are times when it takes everything possible to sit with that’s here. I digress though.
I sat my gear up in downtown Portlands’ Pioneer Square. There are all walks of life everywhere I play and yesterday was no different. Business men, the working class, shop owners, the unemployed, and the homeless all stopped by. Many times the homeless seem to be the most interested. There seems to be a thinner veil between myself and those who have been stripped down to nothing and are simply being as themselves no matter how that’s judged by the rest of society. There’s a part of me that I can feel that wants them to leave me alone and is filled with contempt. I think though that energy is one of the collective and the judgement we place on those that we label “bad”. I’ve had people who seemingly had nothing give me everything they have. I sit with it fear and anger and watch it all unfold. I also sit with wonder and awe from these people and what they offer me. They are basically naked in this world and seem to be ok with that. They are not hiding behind titles or money. They are often confronted with addictions and some incredibly challenging mindstates…all of which I know and understand.
Depending on where I am on my own journey inwardly, I either accept them or I don’t. Either way I navigate it all as best I can. I will say some of the greatest acts of love I’ve ever received have come from someone who didn’t have a damn thing but chose to give anyway. What a lesson there is.
There was this elderly woman who yesterday sat down about 10 feet in front of me. She was clearly drunk and at first I could feel myself cringe inside wanting her to get away. Then she pulled a new bottle of alkaline water and placed it at my feet. It caught me off guard but was actually just what I needed. I forgot to bring water. Was it frustrating when she asked my for requests and started singing along to my songs? Yes, but I’m not quite sure what it was that was happening for me that made me recoil. There was something that I needed to give myself in that moment that she was reminding me off. This is true no matter what the encounter. Each person is simply a reflection of some part of me that is longing to heal and come back to presence. My work seems to be to hold it all and do the processing that allows me to come back to presence.
The day turned out like most others. People took videos, some gave me money, some stopped and listened a while, and some looked at me inquisitively. As I progress on this journey, I try and remind myself it’s all a gift of some sort that just needs unpacking. I didn’t end up playing a marathon session like some days. There was a part of me that knew I was done after an hour so I left. in 2022 I’m started to remember who I am and how much of a gift it is to be able to play music this way. This is doing something to me that opens my heart one song at a timeb, one note at a time. I don’t know where it’s heading but I’m grateful that this is the life that chose me.