METTA MIND JOURNAL: PAUL MASVIDAL’S MEDITATIONS FROM BERLIN AND OSNABRÜCK
Cynic’s Paul Masvidal has been chronicling the band’s U.S. and European Carbon-Based Anatomy tour as part of his Metta Mind Journal column here on MetalSucks over the past few days. Check out previous entries here. Today’s meditations come from the band’s tour stops in Berlin and Osnabrück, Germany.
Meditation location #27 – CBA tour. Berlin – Mark, our stage manager, whose bones are built of hearty Aussie stock, warned me with ‘it’s cold out there!’, as I stepped outside. When Mark says it’s cold, I listen. Rain! sleet!! hail!!! snow!!! Repeat… then came the WIND! Holy shit. Our bus driver Max was kind enough to walk Erin (our tour manager) and I up to a nearby restaurant where he treated us to a delicious breakfast.
Berlin has a sprawling big city vibe, packed with humans doing things. My sight line was immediately filled with graffiti. I can appreciate street art in most cities… in this area of Berlin, it’s nearly everywhere you look, like a backdrop. What’s interesting is that, an outsider looking in, at first glance, might think it’s a rough neighborhood == with our ghetto pop culture association to graffiti — although I realized quickly this area was far from ghetto. I think they might actually appreciate the street art aesthetic around here. The neighborhood outside the bus was filled with little boutique hipster stores selling t-shirts, jeans, vinyl, etc, along with the miscellaneous Turkish (falafel), and trendy, posh restaurants.
The streets were busy, and all the humans braving the weather encouraged me to do the same. I found myself up on a bridge where I took some photos, one of which was of a bicyclist riding towards me, squinting his eyes to protect himself from the hail. My feet were drenched. I only packed one pair on this tour and they’re kinda like vans in that they’re made of a sponge-like canvas. I’m reminded of last night’s rain, which was making a beautiful sound. I heard it from inside my bunk as it hit the roof of our bus. The flurry of drops had this complex rhythm going like some new school drum and bass meets electronic white noise. I wanted to record some of it, but was too tired to grab my phone.
Berlin has a tremendous history in the arts. My friend Holger and I were talking about David Bowie’s Berlin years, in the late 70’s where he made the ‘Trilogy’ records, one of which was an amazing album called Low produced by Brian Eno. Many other fringe artists like Iggy Pop, Lou Reed and Nick Cave put in their Berlin time to energetically absorb the frayed edges of this cultural city. New York and Los Angeles can also have a similar effect on those of us in the arts. I find LA to have an extremely creative energy percolating its field. It’s easy for me to make music there, it’s in the air, it just takes an open antenna. Inspiration is everywhere, in the seen and unseen dimensions.
Show time came and we walked thru the audience to get to the stage. I got an instant dose of the room’s vibe in one shot, like a charge. The show was electric. The room was pulsating and throbbing, heads bobbing, bodies wiggling, we were definitely in this one together.
Berlin youth remind me of typical big city youth. They’ve seen it all and are exposed to anything they want at a moment’s notice in real time — and I don’t mean on the internet — they’ve seen it live. Sean and I grew up with a similar, older-than-our-years sensibility because of having a big city upbringing. I even remember a school teacher saying to me once, ‘you’re too young to be this cynical.’ She was using the modern negative connotation of the word, which means seeing the weight of the world throughseemingly jaded, distrusting eyes. It felt like wisdom then, to think I knew how the world worked. To think I actually had a hold of what was going on. Ha! The humbling reality I’d uncover later is another story. On the outside it seemed like the end of innocence for a young boy, but it was really just a layer of armor that would fall away if I was given enough time to sit and talk.
Some of my childhood therapists were great at cutting to the chase and revealing my wounded self. It was terrifying to imagine I could actually be exposed as the scared kid that I was with just the right questions. If I chose to answer ’em honestly and look directly at what was going on, there was no escape. Just me, alone, afraid, trying to connect, to feel like I belonged. I haven’t changed much, I guess. In the end I’m still here, as that little boy, seeking love and trust during this short stint on planet earth. Am I alone? I don’t think so; it seems most of us humans are in the same boat. Thankfully, what’s happening now is that I know I don’t have an escape route (if I’m lucky ;-)… Sakyong Mipham says, “Being fooled into trying to make things work out for ‘me’ is called samsara.” Freedom is right here in front of us, in each moment. Life keeps unfolding and if I can trust in its inherent wisdom, without a need to manipulate, or make sense of what’s happening, life does life. Thanks Berlin, for the short, remarkable adventure. The weather alone demanded my full attention!
Meditation location #28 – CBA tour – Osnabrück – I meditated in a classic old school bus, painted to look like a bottle of Jack Daniels. It was parked outside the venue and turned out to be the entrance hall for ticket purchases. I found myself giggling at one point on this sit. My mind kept coming back to today’s morning on our bus, where humans were liberating incredible sounds from their bodies. I wasn’t the only one! We were a particularly gassy bunch this morning, it must have been last night’s meal. Today was a lighter day, and anytime I can find an opportunity to lighten things up, the better.
Osnabrück was our 15th show of 19 in a row. A stretch like this builds a stir crazy-like silliness in me. Throughout the day, usually pre-show, I find myself playing with human speech by unearthing very peculiar word combinations and attempting to have conversations with ’em. Max has been my best conspirator in this game of absurdity. One of the more recent ‘isms’ was about ‘finding whisper widgets on a park bench’. It’s a bit of my playfully neurotic nature manifesting. The child in me connecting with the sound of words. I heard someone say once, “neurosis is the basis of wisdom,” so I’ll go with that today.
Another way that stir crazy silliness manifests in me is by adopting certain animal species stage antics. I’ve officially inhabited the marsupial with a hint of chinchilla, Max has a lioness instinct mixed with a new giraffe move he uncovered last night, and Brandon does the subtle cobra, slithering about. Sean’s always the octopus, with an eight-limb-action-party happening the entire set. I’m at the point now where each show is a celebratory, unabashed performance.
When I think of funny and inspiring folks, Robert Anton Wilson immediately comes to mind. My buddy Brian turned me onto him with the book Cosmic Trigger years ago. Check out his Iluminati papers. The show had a warm collection of souls. Met some wonderful peeps post show as well. Thank you all for the kindness. Love and strength to you on the path.
I leave with a joke from one of my favorite comics, Bill Hicks –
News is supposed to be objective, isn’t it? . . . But every drugs story is negative? . . . Same LSD story every time: “Young man on acid, thought he could fly, jumped out of a building. What a tragedy.” What a dick! Don’t go blaming acid on this guy. If he thought he could fly, why didn’t he take off from the ground first to check it out? . . . I’d like to see a positive LSD story. Would that be newsworthy? Just once? Hear what it’s all about? “Today a young man on acid realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration, that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively. There’s no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we’re the imagination of ourselves. Here’s Tom with the weather.”
– Paul Masvidal / Cynic