Starting to experiment with a new way of playing songs so that I can make a song from beginning to end as a hybrid live performance, and record the video as well. Here is an early experiment which I like, although the levels need adjusting. Enjoy!
To know where you are, to have a social and psychological context, can be comforting and carry a sense of security. However, it can also have the baggage of history, the weight of too many personal dramas, and come with a feeling of being stuck or trapped. The open road can offer not just a fresh start, but a perpetual freshness, tasting life without history, moving through worlds without becoming part of them.
Oh that magic feeling,
Nowhere to go
Of course, not everyone trusts the stranger in their midst. Many will still probe you for a story. If you are on a journey, you must have a destination, or a reason for going. Perhaps you are running from something. And how could you possibly be happy on your own?
When you wander, you are in a heightened relationship with fate. Your closest companion is God, who speaks to you through chance encounters, through twists of fate and through the inner feeling of expansiveness itself. When you walk without a purpose or destination, it can be easy to feel unstuck from space or time. When you never know what is coming next, you must either trust in God or return to what is familiar and offers the feeling of safety.
As you wander through places you never knew existed and meet people with lives very different from your own, you may feel a sudden and spontaneous reverence for humanity, the diversity of the world, and the infinite creative power of God. You may be moved by the inexplicable kindness of those you meet, and also humbled and broken down by the indifference and sometimes cruelty of others. You cannot wander and be proud, because, as a wanderer, you depend too much on others and the road. Instead, you meet every situation and experience as a lesson from the road.
Once upon a time, this type of pilgrimage was commonplace, and perhaps, when freed from an overbearing religious context, it could become that way again. It could be accepted, respected even, for spiritual seekers to hit pause on the flow of life and take to the road, living the life of a wanderer for however long it suits them.
Wandering makes you appreciate many of the things we take for granted. Even something as simple as a glass of water can become a godsend. Not to mention food and shelter. We become more aware of the cycles of the natural world, and our place in them. We learn to bear small discomforts without complaint. We learn surrender.
Surrender sounds like death. There is a place where life and death meet, where movement meets the unmoving, where presence and absence are two words signifying the same thing.
Moonlight sleeping on a midnight lake
Paul Simon and Joseph Shabalala
Spirit is homeless, wandering from life to life, from body to body, restlessly seeking happiness through the senses, hoping to secure a permanent rest through possessions and relationships which are inevitably ephemeral.
I’m a leaf on a windy day
Pretty soon I’ll be blown away
How long will the wind blow,
How long will the wind blow?
Until I die, until I die
These things I’ll be until I die
Brian Wilson (Beach Boys)
There is a bittersweet beauty in the ephemerality of things. All things are wandering from birth to death, and out of death comes new birth. Wandering from form to formlessness. From ignorance to experience and wisdom.
The shape of things can be lost, but their essence remains.
The millstone of life goes on moving, Kabir weeps
Between the layers of truth and untruth, no one is spared
The millstone of life goes on moving, Kabir observes
He who holds the anchor of His name, will always remain unhurt!
Don’t leave me now, O Breath, I am a wanderer!
Still have to travel to faraway lands
O the one who is asleep, awake!
Our Master has made this body like a palace
And He played the instrument of breath within!
Our Master has made this body like a garden,
And how He’s filled it with a bowl of flowers!
Says Kabir, he who follows the truth
Will attain the kingdom of immortality!
Kabir (sung in ‘Banjara’ by Maati Baani)
What is the kingdom of immortality?
And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation:
Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
Luke 17:20 (King James Bible)
The wanderer may start to see all the external places as equal and ephemeral, each holding their own joys and sorrows, but passing from time and eventually from memory. Such a realisation cannot help but drive us to seek some refuge in this ‘within-ness.’ Is there something within us which does not pass, does not change, and provides a refuge from the twists and turns of fate, of the road of life? Is there a home which is not an external place, but our own inner Self?
Through prayer and meditation, we may seek to discover the treasures of this ‘within-ness.’ Like seeds planted in the soil of our heart, they bear eternal fruits which are ever-sweeter.
The playlist at the top of this post includes the songs quoted here and some other songs which carry this feeling of wandering freedom, bittersweet beauty of the ephemerality of life, and mysticism of the eternal spirit.
Fragments of Light was conceived of as a collection of song sketches, fragments rather than fully formed pieces, and this lightness was a refreshing approach to the creative process. Some of these songs are now evolving into more fleshed out pieces with vocals and a proper song structure.
This album is largely woven out of samples and textures, evocative and with a lo-fi, downtempo vibe. I had a lot of fun making it and I hope you enjoy it as well.
All of the songs on Fragments of Light are available for use in non-commercial projects and can be downloaded from the SoundCloud embed above. For any commercial use, please visit my page on commercial licensing.
Don’t worry about saving these songs!
And if one of our instruments breaks,
it doesn’t matter.
We have fallen into the place
where everything is music.
The strumming and the flute notes
rise into the atmosphere,
and even if the whole world’s harp
should burn up, there will still be
hidden instruments playing.
So the candle flickers and goes out.
We have a piece of flint, and a spark.
This singing art is sea foam.
The graceful movements come from a pearl
somewhere on the ocean floor.
Poems reach up like spindrift and the edge
of driftwood along the beach, wanting!
from a slow and powerful root
that we can’t see.
Stop the words now.
Open the window in the center of your chest,
and let the spirit fly in and out.
(Translated by Coleman Barks and John Moyne)
All of the songs on The Truth Within are available for use in non-commercial projects and can be downloaded from the SoundCloud embed above. For any commercial use, please visit my page on commercial licensing.
Mystic Gate: Songs for the Hidden Peak was conceived as a fundraising album for the Hidden Peak teahouse in Santa Cruz, California. That beautiful little haven of peace is where I fell in love with tea and met my future wife back in 2013.
When some members of the Santa Cruz tea community decided to have a fundraiser to help the teahouse, which functions as a community and spiritual hub, stay afloat, I was inspired to write these songs and donate any proceeds from the album to the teahouse. While it was only a modest contribution, this album continues to be dedicated to the teahouse and these songs have found their way into many creative projects and YouTube videos.
The title, Mystic Gate, conjures up all those people, places, and events which have the power and timing to elevate our consciousness to a higher level, opening up not just new experiences for us, but new ways of being and experiencing life, ourselves and others.
If I could have a highest wish for this album, it would be that it could be your Mystic Gate back into your own innermost being.
All of the songs on Mystic Gate: Songs for the Hidden Peak are available for use in non-commercial projects and can be downloaded from the SoundCloud embed above. For any commercial use, please visit my page on commercial licensing.