Thursday, May 08, 2008


Here's a first. This post has a soundtrack.

The reason this post has a soundtrack, is because this mp3 is a recording of the music I was playing with my band on the weekend, when I came to this realization. And somewhere in the middle of a somewhat self-indulgent but very satisfying twelve-eight blues progression, this weird notion of immediacy hit me. So, I thought I'd attempt to share it. Press play, if you didn't already, and see if you can follow me on this one...

The realization comes from this notion that when you're playing music, as soon as you play a note, it's gone. I know that's kind of obvious, but when you're playing with people who are much better than you (which is always a good thing to do) you really have to concentrate. And I found myself concentrating on which note to play, and which change to make, when. But once I had "made it", and played the right note, it was gone. It might as well have never been there.

There were other changes coming up, but they were a fair way away. Part of my brain was keeping an eye out for those. And part was feeling kind of proud of the fact that I'd managed to keep it together so far.

And then it dawned on me, that all of this past and future stuff was kind of a distraction. The only thing I really needed to pay attention to - the one thing I needed to do right - was to play this note. The next one. The one right now.

Which led me to question my internal motivation. Mainly. I just wanted the music to sound great. But, part of me was keen to avoid the 'knowing glare' from my bandmates, if I messed up.
People have evolved a natural tendency to evaluate each other. Sometimes intentionally, othertimes almost subliminally, you're evaluating the people you meet in your life. As an extremely social animal, humans have a very complex reputation management system, which helps us decide who we should engage with, and for what. This is an extremely important skill, and it's one that may be the cornerstone of all society.

But this Reputation Mangement System also sucks. Reputations are easily damaged. Sometimes they are percieved as damaged, when they're not. It can lead to feelings of low self worth, and anxiety. (This is why people fear public speaking more than death.)

Your reputation is really just a weird arbitrary evaluation that starts with people who have met you. It's based, almost totally, on your past activities, and your future potential. So, I thought that maybe, just like the music, that it too is a distraction. That the only thing you really need to be concerned with is right now. How you were in the past is gone. And how you will be in the future is completely irrelevant.

I found it to be an amazingly uplifting thought. You should give it a go. Just focus on your actions right now. Pretend that there is no future, or no past.

You don't have to rely on those things to "average you out".

Anyway, this is all getting a bit deep. But, it really stuck with me.

And I wanted an excuse to share some of Carl and Tommy's awesome guitar solos.



  1. Congratulations. You've stumbled onto one of the fundamental principles of Buddhism without the need for cave-dwelling, nettle eating, or wearing a red dressing gown in public.

  2. Wow!
    (Do Buddhists really eat nettles?
    That sounds very unpleasant.)

  3. Yeah, there's that annoying suffering element you have to embrace, I'm sure that'll be next on your journey towards enlightenment. Come to think of it, it's already happening, you're in the basement fixing leaky pipes while we're up here eating cake ;0)