Ever since I was a young boy, there has been a puzzling question, a question to which the answer always seems to shift and change whenever I ask it. I have, in effect, trudged on these odd twenty years posing the same question. Each time, it brings up a different face, sometimes bright and reassuring and sometimes as in this most recent repose, a bleak and forlorn visage.
The question is, (maybe you might be able to answer it) what happens to us when we die? For a while during my fledgling years, when I still had supple skin and smelled like peaches, I was sure there was a nice little place, under God’s broad wings where we’d all go and live out the rest of eternity. My little mind was and is still incapable of conceiving the concept of eternity. But it was well aware of how it felt to be under those snuggly little wings. My grandmother, as many grandmothers do, kept chicken. And it was often that I closely considered how the mother hen would bring the little hatchlings under her wings in the peace of the evening as the sun went down. That was nature’s little way of letting me know that just like the sun went down, there’d be some place at the end of time where, I and everyone else I’d love would find our big chicken and under her fluffy wings she’d help us go gently into the never ending night.
As I’ve mentioned that perspective has continually altered and most recently, with the help of a close friend, I came to surmise the following. It will seem naïve to some, but this is just my finite mind trying to fathom the workings of an infinite reality. Perhaps if you consider it too you will come to the same conclusion. And the conclusion is that there is nothing to be experienced, no big chicken under whose white wings we’ll go to. There is no experience such as the life we have here and now beyond the veil. And that is down to a couple of things. The life we imagine we’ll experience beyond the grave cannot be possible. We imagine that we have a soul that is separate from the bodies we have. A soul that will go on illimitably, seeing, hearing, feeling, thinking and loving past the hour of our demise. But this cannot be possibly true. Why?
Have you ever asked yourself whether it can be possible to see without eyes? Can it be possible to feel the love of a mother’s touch without the function of our nervous system? And can it even be possible to be ravaged by the rumbling of glorious heavy music without the proper running of the auditory glands? The answer is a simple no.
Without this physical form, there is nothing to be felt, nothing to be seen and nothing to be heard. The inescapable conclusion is that there is just but one life, with its singular pleasures, singular irreplaceable experiences and singular regrets. In consequence we have only the one life, one family and only one country. It is only these things that we are born into, that we have to cherish, the only things to experience, to regret and to remember. Even if we were to be reincarnated as some have affected to believe, as an engineer, as a musician born into another country with a benevolent queen as leader and true justice as the only law, there is still the tragedy that we are consigned to never remembering our previous lives. And the effect is the same. That we live just the one life, or at least remember just one!
And so here comes the point to this whole ramble of mine. How would we then want to live out this life that we are, for lack of a better word, blessed with? The answer to that is as varied as the one about whether there is something to expect beyond death. But there is one curious answer that I’d want us all to ponder about. And of course it has to do with music.
Considering that we will only ever have one life, one rock scene and one country wouldn’t it be a wise and economic use of that life if we were to embrace it. Just like the families we all might have, not perfect but our only commission in the grand scheme of things. The guys next door may have a picket fence and the ones across the road may have ice cream and tart after dinner. Everyone else may have something we don’t have here. Your sister may be buck toothed and no one will ever offer her a hand for marriage. Your dog may be the most common mongrel and just eat omena and maize meal once in a day, not like the Singhs who offer their Dalmatian store bought dog food. Your dad may be a common work man and can’t afford to buy you gifts on your birthday, but they are all you have. And no matter how you imagine a better life and curse yours for how meagre and inferior it is, you will die with your one and only ration of inferior family.
And just like your ‘inferior’ and meagre ration of family, this rock scene with its inconsistent rock bands, poor to shit sound quality and less than average shows may not be everything, but it is all you have, all we have. I do pray for you night and day that one day you will be born Finnish and maybe then in that bright morning when you wake up from this not so pleasant dream, you will be able to enjoy their stellar bands and their not so temperate climate. But until then when my prayers for you are answered all you have is that little room of yours with your posters of Omnium Gatherum and Tool playing mildly on your headphones. Your admiration is cute and well received (I’m sure Tool are pleased wherever they are these days) but meaningless because all these swell bands are miles away. And just like that little boy that hated that his dad didn’t wear suits and wished that he had Mr. Singh for a sire instead, you will live a life of illusion and never be truly happy.
I learned a long time ago that life is rich if we learn to look within us and enjoy the githeri on Sundays. It may not be exotic but it has its richness (as much richness as monocotelydone and dicotelydone can offer. Science!). It may not smell so great but it will feed us and is closer to us than that four course meal of mushroom soup, bread, grilled turkey and apples for dessert. We will be much more fulfilled if we learn to enjoy Parking Lot Grass that’s playing in our own back yard than dreaming and driving ourselves faster into the grave with ulcers wishing for a better stock for ourselves like being born elsewhere and attending the Wacken Festival.
All this talk of food and death has worked up my appetite but I hope it has built up your zeal for what your country has to offer. Because in the end as I told one old man (yes I am that wise despite my age) that we only have the one life and one country. Platform 7 is next and there’s a wealth of good music to be played there, courtesy of Seismic featuring Rafael Sipalla, the godfathers of the scene, Rock of Ages and one band I’ve been waiting almost my whole life to watch, Murfy’s Flaw. I’ve already met Nambari Tisa (I’ll tell you about that meeting next time). I hear the rest of the band save for him is composed to ladies, one of whom he married (very smooth man, very smooth). And the music they play is even smoother. So don’t waste your life wishing for castles in the sky. Come watch these guys under the rooftop of this small cottage we have. Oh, and yeah the venue is at ‘The Rooftop’ Westlands!
May peace be with you? I guess. You will forgive me for threatening you with death but I’ve tried everything to get you to come to shows. And what is there that is more compelling than the fear of oblivion? Nothing.