In my last blog I discussed coming to have a different relationship with songs, as well as having questioned the wisdom of opening up about that process and where it has led me. I talked about how my experiences of the past three years now seem to be culminating in a return of sorts, a change in perspective regarding many things, including my approach to this blog. In the end, I remembered all the stories I'd read from others on similar paths and the difference their honesty made in my own journey. And so, I continue ...
As I've grown older I've come to see the world as a place where one is best served by having a "free" mind. In other words, a mind whose reactions are tempered and not immediately subject to the whims of external circumstance; a mind that takes responsibility for itself and takes no one's word for anything. This is not meant to sound rebellious ... I'm not really the revolutionary type. I am, however, the evolutionary type, and I tend to view each and every person as a universe unto themselves. If one truly wishes to claim ownership of their universe, it seems they must begin by claiming ownership of their mind.
Considering some of the interesting cosmological theories scientists are currently positing, such as bio-centrism and holographic universe theory, it may indeed be the case that our personal realities are our own realms: bubbles of co-creation bumping up and against many other such bubbles. It’s mind-boggling to consider such ideas, at least it is for me.
In examining our lives we see that no one else has access to the experiences of our reality, only we do. We alone are tasked with managing the streams of sensory data our bodies collect. Our brains -- in a mysterious dance of consciousness no one can explain -- allow data deemed most relevant to pass through filtering mechanisms and use it to fashion the frames of reality in which we live. It's up to us to contend with those frames, and the inner-dialog of the mind which results. No matter how suffocating our lives may seem at times, we still get to choose how we regard, or "experience" reality as we move through it, no one can take that power from another person. We get to make up our own minds.
Despite this fact, most people choose to take their beliefs from others: the experts and the educated, those who advertise themselves as having answers. We do what were told for the most part, that which we've always done, as if someone, somewhere had thought these behaviors through before passing them down to us. Still, it's hard to fault a person for assuming such a stance in life. After all, once a person starts doing their own thinking they’ve made themselves accountable for their own life circumstances, a daunting proposition in the best of cases, and certainly so in modern society. How exactly does one go about forming their own opinions when public dialog largely coalesces into two avenues of thought: left and right, each replete with experts and facts which stand in direct contradiction to the opposing experts and facts?
We seem to have reached a wryly comical phase of the human story, having stepped across an evolutionary line of some sort, a point past which facts can no longer be reliably known. This being the case, I don't hold myself back from the opinions of others, I depend upon them more than ever, truly. Yet, I understand that when it comes to my life, I have to be the arbiter of my own story; I have to be my own scientist and my own shaman, in a manner of speaking.
I try remain mindful of these things on the journey, reminding myself to not fear ideas or perspectives which differ from my own, yet to always keep my own counsel as to what serves me best. I listen to experts, but keep my ears open and investigate matters directly when my intuition nudges me or when something doesn't feel right. If I'm not well, I'll go to the doctor, no question. But I keep in mind that American doctors once recommended one brand of cigarette over another, just as they now recommend one type of pill over another. Most of all, I remember that my doctor is a person, just like me; one who just so happens to wear a white coat to work. It's a reality of modern medicine, as with most professions (including my own day job), that the customer's well-being is only part of the equation, there's always other skin in the game. The further we travel as a species, the less value a "customer" seems to have-an unsettling thought in the era of privatization.
In the summer of 2015 I was leaning more deeply into this way of thinking, and found myself pulling away from many of the answers offered-up by modern society, having shifted my focus inward in search of alternatives. I'd turned off the news, habitually skipped over advertisements, and generally formed a bubble around myself with which I could hold back the messages of fear and acquiescence to violence that permeate American popular culture. It was this approach that led me to that Tennessee cabin in the summer of 2015, although there was no strategy in it for me, I was simply following a feeling. This is a habit I learned through songwriting, as discussed in my last blog.
I only have theories -- my best summations as a person acting as his own scientist and shaman -- but it seems to me that this period in my life was a “clearing” of my personal environment, one that provided for me the quiet needed to sense deeper things, to feel the pull of a record as opposed to that of a song, for instance. I was trying to shut out the incessant societal noise and tune into something barely audible, something I could swear was calling to me, albeit through no means of communication I was familiar with. To put it bluntly, my heart had begin to converse with me, quite literally (don’t worry, I wasn’t hearing voices, not that I’m saying there’s anything wrong with that). I can't describe what exactly I was feeling, but my heart seemed to know where to go, so I decided to get out its way, best I could.
This is, in fact, the point: that in opening myself to songwriting as the pursuit of a feeling or intuition, I came to sharpen a sense capable of discerning such things, whatever sense that may be. What I didn't know at the time is that I was following out of the realm of music and into something else. It's as if music hadn't been the point at all, it had simply acted as a pathway to something larger. I suppose this makes sense, after all, isn't the most profound artistic offering we have to give that of our own life and the way in which we lead it?
At the time I thought I was giving birth to a new collection of songs, but I was actually giving birth to a new me and using songwriting as a tool for doing so, among other things. As I've previously stated, this was no strategy, I was following out of pure curiosity for the most part (the inner scientist), and also because I felt compelled to do so at a subtle level (the inner shaman). I've always been drawn to mystery above all else, imagine my surprise when mystery seemed to be offering me a larger invitation to follow its leading. I do not consider myself special in this regard, I believe mystery calls to everyone, although I do not believe everyone hears ... it's a noisy world.
So you see, my time in the cabin was centered within a larger story-line than music, one in which I was beginning to sense deeper intuitive pulls, beyond songs or even albums. I had within me a feeling that I could not attach a name to, and that feeling did not conform to reason or the lessons of my upbringing and education. Having spent my career as a software developer only made matters worse, as I possessed a deeply ingrained, linear, systems-thinking approach to life. This acted to amplify my discomfort in that -- although I did not know what I was grappling with -- I knew it did not feel logical or reasonable; a fact that led to considerable disquiet within me. Still, something about it felt true ... more true, in fact, than anything I’d ever felt. Differently true.
I didn't know it at the time, but I was about to pass through an experience I now believe to be a perilous time in one’s life, although I cannot say that each confronts it in the same way I did, if at all. For my part, the lead-up was harrowing, as the path I was travelling seemed to be eroding my rationality, as if inviting me to a different way of thinking-one that didn't resemble traditional “thinking” at all. I have since read a great deal on the psychology of such times in a person’s life, and feel my own experience is accurately reflected in the writings of a therapist who had a similar personal transition, writing in summary, “I felt like I was anteing up my own sanity in continuing.”
Thankfully, I can now look back and see that the opposite was the case, I've never felt more sane than I do now. Yet, greater sanity required me to release those things my mind had grown to rely upon, even reason itself for a time. For reason stands in direct opposition to paradox, and paradox was something I was soon to confront. Life, it seemed, wanted me to let go of the side of the pool. Weeks would pass until I was ready, willing, and able to do that. However, in late October of 2015, that’s exactly what happened.
Till next time ...
Americana Singer Songwriter Ed Dupas’ lived-in melodies unwind with reflective lyrics that speak to the current state of the human condition. Soothing where possible, agitating where necessary, and calling for change where appropriate. Ed Dupas creates and shares well worn wide awake music.
For more information about music, shows, merchandise and Ed, visit: