Sunday, January 16, 2011

A little whistle in the heart

 If asked i wouldn't be able to tell you the science behind what happens when we are experiencing in something that we really enjoy. I'm sure it's chemical and biological at some level. Perhaps spiritual. But these are all words we've made up about stuff we pretend that we know about, as are the words I am writing right now, all ideas about shit i know nothing of. Regurgitating words that have been said before in a million different ways by a million different people each with their own little slice of "how it is" pie. 
Pleasure is an interesting thing. I don't often stop and ask "why" about the various pleasures i feel in this life i live. They just are and i like them. But there is one that mystifies me every time, and not because i want to know the whys of it or anything like that. I just marvel at the consistency of it and how it takes over my body like nothing else. And i ain't talking about sex here. But sometimes it feels that way.
Most of you know that i have been a hardcore music nut for as early in life as i could be. Both of my folks in my younger years were deep appreciators of music and i grew up with some great early roots done played over the old hi-fi. My dad often played guitar and before they were together he was playing in a hippie band that I am convinced could have done some good things. But then had he gone on to a big time music career then i probably wouldn't be "me" or be here writing these words to you, my friends, family, lovers and otherwise. I'm glad I'm here doing those things.
I sometimes wonder about those nights when i was a kid, my folks and i would go over to Uncle Barry and Aunt Lois' house for dinner. Afterward we'd be hanging out in the living room and sometimes the weed would come out and they'd all get high and listen to awesome music. I used to love that because they'd always get much funnier and I'd be funnier too. They'd play The Cars, Dire Straights, Moody Blues and other staples of the music lover at the time. Those nights had such an impression on me and perhaps i was getting contact high and tripping on the tunes but i firmly believe those nights were partly responsible for my love of music to this day. That and when my dad would play Beatles and sing Bob Dylan as part of my end of night story-time. Music has always been a rich part of my life.
I am pretty grateful to have not lost my zip and zing for awesome songs at 36. It's sad to me that some folks just lose interest and let this amazing art form take a back seat. Even if you don't have all the time in the world to invest in keeping up and staying "cool" there is always time to close your eyes and let your favorite song take you back to your self. To let it give you joyful little outbursts when you're out in public with the headphones on and you just can't help yourself.
But we do what we do and not everyone can care about rich melodies and warm movements that shake you to the core. Me, i let it take me as often as i can. I may not question why, but i certainly take notice of just how deeply a song can affect me. Songs that i have been listening to for years still amaze me. Those moments in the bridge where something oh so subtle happens and it still makes me smile, and maybe even more so because of how well i have gotten to know it, my old tuney friend.
There is an album by a band called Neutral Milk Hotel that i would listen to nearly every day for at least 2 years from start to finish. Never single songs or half an album. If i listened i was committed. It was ritual and it was wonderful and it felt fantastic to sing along with every word and just be fucking shattered by how incredible this music was and how it moved me so deeply.
Man, if you could see me in my private moments.....i keep the weeping and gesticulating down to a minimum when in public but holy shit, hit me with a favorite song and I'm lost, hopping from planets and swimming in seas of fun and candy floss and sometimes tears. I feel it in every centimeter of my body, but especially in my guts and heart. It feels like a very physical thing and i definitely have a physical reaction to music, but it's the subtle movements that i think are really neat. How i will sometimes double up a bit as if i can't take any more in that part of my body, or how something as simple as the trailing off of a perfect guitar strum will create a ball of intense emotion in my throat every time i hear it, or how a wave of sound will wash me like a bath of warm mint light. I love it. And i am thankful for the ability to feel music in this way. I am thankful for the people who make music and even more thankful when i see how much it means to them too. I am thankful for being an old fart who wants more of this stuff and is in a position to explore it. I am SO thankful for the ability to write about it.
I guess my return to magazine work after the holidays has got me to ponderin'. 
Being able to write about the stuff i love makes me understand it a little more, makes me appreciate it even more and ultimately allows me to express more fully who and what i am and how i roll.
I believe that these moments of wonder, when we are leaping from the moon into pools of mint water pleasure, that we are simply present, in the moment and with our deepest feelings and if that's the case then i want to be rocking out at shows and dancing in my room with tears in my eyes until the day i drop and die. 
And that's all i have to say tonight.....

Hold on to the happy things. They will set you free.
Thank you i love you. N

Monday, January 3, 2011

A toast and a few words about the times

I never really make new years resolutions. I think about it and even go as far as writing a few down but I'm not much for making promises or forcing myself into things for traditions sake. Intentions are an everyday thing and i prefer to make personal shifts and alterations to my behavior when it is circumstantial and feels right for me. However i do take time at the end of each year to count my blessings and reflect on the past 365 days of life lived (hopefully) well. On top of this year having passed we are entering into a new decade which makes me think even more about the places i have been to and the faces i saw when i got there. 
So, I'm not going to break it down in chronological order and bore you with every minute detail of 10 years in the life of Nathan Pike. Hell, i don't even want to dredge up half of that shit because it's probably rather dull and spotty due to a decade of on and off weed abuse and taking for granted certain things i probably ought to have paid a little more attention to as well as random memories that will only mean something to me and maybe the person(s) involved. Like, do you really need to know about the time at Tree's when i ate space cakes with my co-worker Shanti while on shift and just when they really started kicking in the boss, his wife and their friends from Israel walked in with the hope of being impressed by the "model employees"?
No. You don't.  And I'd just be bragging. I'm not about drug stories and epic tales of how much i can drink. That shit is for teenagers and skids, and i am neither.
But i will share a couple of early bits that stick out along with things that make me scratch my head in wonder. There may be some order to it, but I'm a rag-tag kind of fellow and i make no promises. It is what it is what it is what it is forevermore.

Parts of 2000 were spent jet setting and getting involved with women who weren't so great for me. At the time it was lovely and despite the pain involved i wouldn't change a thing about it, and i can selfishly say that i managed to charm the pants off a couple of ladies who, as a result, took me on trips around the world. I saw Australia and explored her vastness for 4 months and learned a whole heck of a lot about myself, such as how fucking messed up and frightened i was of truly living. It took getting unceremoniously dumped and stranded in the middle of a strange land with a nickle to my name to gain even a hint of self reliance and even when back on home-land i still grabbed at any opportunity that would take me away from the lonely suffocating heart i had weakly pumping away inside of my chest. Namely in the form of a lot of drinking and escapism on the back steps of the house i was staying at. True enough, that Summer WAS a blast and a half and i made a few really good friends....and the pretty girl with big tits next door DID take me to Hawaii for a couple of weeks.....and i did land a pretty sweet job serving healthy food with an amazing woman and her mom.....and i did move house with one of my best friends and had a great experience of it. Yeah, there were decent things to remember that year and even though i may chat crap a bit about a few details i truly feel that 2000 was the year i really started living, even if it broke me in the process.
My favorite clear memory off the top of my head? Coming home after work to find Nate Z sitting on the couch, lips stained red from a bottle of wine polished off by his lonesome, drunk and depressed because the girl he had a crush on turned him down for a date. I'm not heartless and i don't laugh at his pain, but the look on his face and his purple was just fucking priceless and made me love the guy even more.
  Hey, remember 2001? Yeah, that's when some Arab guys hijacked planes and helped to turn a couple of massive buildings literally into dust, killing nearly 3000 people in the process. I remember working that afternoon at the restaurant and being SO pissed off at people for filling up the place and carrying on like nothing had happened, their sandwich and soup combos being far more important than our nations possibly being on the brink of a world war. I came home in a stupor, not quite sure how to deal or feel and instead chose numbness and prayer. 
And then life went on. We went to our jobs and maybe made some empty promises to love and care more for one another and eventually we pushed it to the back of our memory. A black scar in our consciousness that will never really go away and has since become mired in ridiculous conspiracy theories and well-to-do uneducated guesses and assumptions. That is my biggest memory of that year, aside from moving into the home i live in now, on which i have spoken at length in a previous post.
  And, you know, after that there are a lot of years that just kind of flew by. I made friends, i made peace and i moved forward. I discovered pure love in the form of a tall beautiful yogi named Shannon who allowed me to be just me and who unerringly insisted on being just her. She was a milestone and set the bar for future love to come. 
I discovered the heart of my yoga practice and began the process of taking on teachers and diving to deeper levels. To this day i can still hear the voice of my first true teacher, Cathy Valentine and her amazingly precise and gentle path through asana. To this day i still feel those teachings in my body and in how i practice. I remember getting hard-core into Ashtanga yoga and experiencing my first yoga community. It was around this time, 2004 i think, when i realized that i had a yoga teacher in me that was just itching to come out and at the suggestion of a friend and some very auspicious coincidence i took on the teacher who guided that essence out of me and into the classroom. Carolyn Mcmanus was/is a gem and truly one of the best people who I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.
I also discovered in this time and in the following years that the yoga community can be an extremely ego driven self important load of kak and that Vancouver is NOT in any immediate need of yet another teacher. So i stopped. Some might call that a shame and a waste of talent, but i call it preservation of my sanity marbles. As much as i love and stand by my yoga practice,  the whole 'yoga scene' and big city community seems to have become a watered down shadow of its true self and i have no interest in becoming the next 'spiritual rock star'.
One of the favorite things my teacher once said in class was, "Yoga was NEVER meant to be bought. It was meant to be shared, explored, and experienced. There is no room for overpriced 90-day passes in this lifestyle choice." I will carry that with me to the grave and into whatever classes i may find myself in front of in the future.
  And yet there is more that comes to mind. People and places that stick to me like glue. The room-mates and friends i have gotten to know in this home in which i dwell. The 2 years i spent so deeply in love with a woman named Syd and the changed man i was when i came out the other side. Stronger, more self aware with an understanding of the female psyche and finally enough confidence and love of self to make it through the world on my own. The breakup that hurt so much that even today i can dig it up and still feel the gut wrenching pain i felt back then. The insomnia, sickness and depression that followed. The random attack out of nowhere one night on Commercial Drive that left me scared to walk in my own neighborhood for months. The healing and moving on from that. Discovering that i had a knack for writing and being given a mighty big break in which to practice this art. It boggles my mind to think that i have been published across Canada a few times and that possibly hundreds or more read my words on the regular and that it has gotten to the point where people are coming to ME to write about their art. It's crazy and i don't know how the fuck it happened, but it did and i love it more all the time. I am so thankful for this and more. The new friends. The present day. What i have now. Who i have now. Who i love now. All of these are the touchstones i keep firmly tucked away in the recesses of my mind. These things and more happened in my tiny little life within the last 10 years.
When i think about it, there is a lot. More than i want to write about here and now. But the above are the easy to grab hold of memories that poured out of my fingers and onto screen. 
I could fill this page with names of people who touch me on a daily basis and i could write a novel the length of the Srimad Bhagavatam on the bits that astound me about good things, places, and people both past and present. But those people, places and things know who and what they are because i honor them as often as i can. i know i tend to go off on hippy love trips here, and that has been kind of the point of this whole bloggy thing. This writing is therapy for me. It seems the more i do this, the better i become both in my heart and how i deal. Sure i still can't believe the nerve of some people and in my private little world i might hate them for a breath or two, but i haven't really given any time on this blog to talking shit. So in the spirit of year end top 10 lists, i offer you my ramshackle end of decade 'what the fuck?' list. It's pretty random, but it's all stuff that kind of stops me in my tracks and i guess it's relevant to the last decade as it must have somehow been uncovered by me in my travels through life or whatever. 

1) Uggs. These are among the worst looking forms of footwear i have ever seen on a body. 
They go hand in hand with sweatpants, old school gym shorts and big ass glasses worn only for hipster fashion means. Congratulations, you look like you just washed up dead on shore or fell to earth from fucking Neptoon.

2) Using an already dated and bad song to make an even worse club hit. Seriously, tonight i heard a horrible dance track using a line from "I've Had the Time of My Life" and it wasn't even using the original vocal track and when it got to "...had the time." the genius behind the mixer felt it necessary to bastardize it even more by staggering the word 'time', like 'tuh-tuh-tuh-time of my life'...Total horribleness that made me want to crawl up Christs ass and die.

3) 80's throwback modern synth pop that appeals mostly to privileged young cunts who do the awkward dance and reminisce like they know how it was back when they were a year old or less. 

4) Old farts like me who hate on shit that really has no bearing on the happiness and contentment that is possible.

5) Wide eyed idealist hippie types who pass everything off as being "all good" and "in the natural flow of things". Okay, so your ability to dance barefoot in mud and hook up with really hot people is kind of enviable, but when it comes down to fight or flight and the strongest surviving, you my friends will be food for the masses. Meat, if you will. Ironic, considering half of these people are staunch vegetarians and such.

6) Militant activists. The Vancouver Winter Olympics saw some of this action in the form of a bunch of balaclava wearing meat-heads who thought that tossing Xtra-West boxes through windows and scaring tourists was the way to changing our social ills. Don't get me wrong, homelessness and rich getting richer as the poor get colder sucks hard. Senseless, misdirected rage died with the cave-people, and even then there was likely an instinctual method to madness.

7) Drivers. I'm sorry, if I am on foot and you are in car i don't trust you. Too often i have been given the 'right of way' at a cross-walk only to be nearly run down because you forgot that you stopped for me or thought i wasn't going to cross when the little man told me to. I know there are plenty of conscious drivers out there and i will gladly buckle up and go for a drive, but if we are on opposite ends of the travel spectrum, i will go out of my way to avoid you. Nothing personal. It's just that you probably suck.

8) Texting while walking or doing most things actually. YOU PEOPLE ARE FUCKING ZOMBIES!!!!!! It is SO disheartening to be sitting on the bus and to see some closed off frowning sad-sap of a person get on, walk to a seat, plop themselves down and without skipping a beat the text machine is out and they're madly firing off woe-is-me messages to their stupid friend who's probably on another bus across town. Like, seriously, they almost literally throw themselves into their seat and whip out the cell phone like they're drawing their piece in a gun showdown. We have lost the art of watching and listening in favor of constant stimulus from our electronic friends. There is so much to soak in if you take a second of presence. But maybe i should thank you for making more room for those of us who actually ENJOY engaging with the real world.

9) Employers who use and abuse the staff that has helped to make their selfish little dream possible. What can i say about this? It's 2011 and there is still a rampant idea in some employers minds that it is okay to make other human beings eat shit. But then, times can be tough and we take what we can get as far as jobs go, and as long as someone is willing to take spiritual rape on a daily basis there are lecherous mealy mouthed fuckers who will happily hire them.

10) Thievery and vandalism. You break into my house and steal my shit i will steal your eyes from their sockets. Nothing raises my dander more than walking by a freshly broken into car or building. Again, times are tough and we get stupidly addicted to stupid drugs and such, but you have no right or reason to invade another persons personal space so you can feed your need. Fuck you a million times over and then fuck you to hell. 
And lots of graffiti art is cool and I'm so glad there are public spaces both legal and not that are just coated in these colorful tapestries full of hidden meaning and words. I even get tags and all of that, but when it comes to mailboxes, bus windows and the front window of where i work......that shit is just showboating nonsense that holds nothing but hot air. Really, is that bush your "turf"? Really?? Y'all should have your hands chopped off just like in the good old days.

And with that i leave you. Back to the happy.
Thank you to all who read my writings on all things personal and otherwise. Whether you agree with who i am and what i have to say or not, your support and encouragement is awesome. When you tell me that you read something i wrote i feel truly humbled. When you tell me that it touched or spoke to you, well that is a gift. I may have my shitty days and i may dwell on matters that don't matter. I may be hard on people and i may hate more frequently than I'd like, but I'm trying. I'm trying to take the experiences and things i have learned over this last 10 years and to make myself a better human because of it. So i get angry at dumb stuff. At least i don't keep it in a bottle of rage set to explode the second someone says the wrong thing. I am present with it. I have a sense of humor about it. And at the end of the day, no matter what it is, i let it go and get back to what's really important. Such as the friends i keep, the mountains i see from my window and the daily magical happenings that keep me in a state of wonder.
It has been a rich and juicy 10 years. Thanks for coming along with me. I love you.