Rrake rehearsal. A ten piece with compositions by Chris Jonas; I’m one of two drummers, there’s two bassists (acoustic and electric) and then there’s…6 other musicians. Sitara on violin, CK Barlow on rhythm guitar and effects, and Chris on sax. Oh yeah, Josh Smith on sax too. Milton Villarubia III, drums, Paul Brown Bass, Jeremy Bleich bass, Dino on percussion and effects. Dense and thorny, intricate and tricky.
So what’s it like to be inclined to rescue or be heroic and not have that as a live option? Well it’s interesting. What’s it like to believe that people have the absolute freedom to kill themselves and to love someone who’s making plans every now and again? Interesting as well. You are inclined to do everything in your power to keep that person around, yet you know there’s nothing you can do. Well, you can imagine that person gone and get as close as possible to how much you love that person and feel the chest-opening sadness of the deal. Clutch them almost bone-breakingly while they gasp “I want to go home, I want my grandma, I want my cat, I did everything wrong, I have never done anything right, I want a vanilla coke” and then make them come home with you and make them eat veggie sticks, birthday cake, take their pills, drink their ginger ale. It can’t be that someone who is alive, heart pounding, desirous, full of wit and tenderness and spirit, vibrant and bloody can also in an instant simply be gone. Vanished. Oh yes it can. This is the nature of it. We are always right next to death in every moment; we’re just used to thinking of things as permanent or that the end is so far off that it’s unthinkable. Being with Dying is the name of the book that the unreliable narrator is ghost writing, and we are always being with dying, we’d just rather not think about it. Even when we blithely say “Oh, I know I’ll die someday, and so will you,” we don’t “know it in our bones,” as the un-narrator puts it. When we do know it in our bones what then? My experience is that I am called back to what is real. It’s past the illusions of identity and the projections of home onto possessions, surroundings, the body. I’m just being. Everything else will be stripped away. The true and the reliable is still there. I don’t know. God we call it.
“Have you tried prayer?” I asked. I pray all the time now. Essentially, “Help! And thank you.” With no clear understanding of who or what I’m praying to. Amazing that such an action that sounds so vague in words has such repeated efficacy. “God is either everything or nothing” says our Gnostic patriarch, Bill W. I said to my self “let’s just have an open mind. Entertain the possibility that it’s all true. That more will be revealed and the only thing we need is functional humility, willingness, the open mind.” And it’s enough. Mystery. Go figure.
There’s nothing to do. We are literally incapable of imagining what will happen. Not as a defect or deficit of our powers. We just don’t have the imaginal capacity and accepting that is oddly comforting. I’m not in charge. Everything is God’s business. The only things I need to do are already happening. As Ornette Coleman said in an interview in the NYT the other day, in reference to a Jewish singer of sacred songs: “what he is singing about is what he is singing to.” God is everything even when we are adamantly asserting “I am not that.” That too is the gift given to know that we, in fact, are.
It’s a shame it all comes out sounding fairly esoteric and mystical, since it’s the only thing ever going on.