This weekend two things were happening – bombs were dropping, people’s bodies were beginning to rot in a field after being flung down to the earth from a plane, children were being shot and bombed as they played soccer in the fields; and one of my favourite bands was doing a little ‘tour de perth’ to celebrate an album they made.
Because I am a human, I can, and must, hold these things together in my mind, in my heart, my spirit, my body. But how is this possible?
One way is to try to make sense out of nonsense, and that’s what I’m doing now.
Doctopus are a fine band, fine in the oldest sense of this word. When they play, they draw out energy from the crowd, and create more. Science will tell you that heat can’t be created or lost, just transferred, (kind of) but that can exist alongside me telling you – Doctopus create extra energy. People dance when they play, people yell the words out. I think this calling out of words in Perth shows at this particular time was started by that one song ‘Medicine’ by Peter Bibby. I think that song, and also Camp Doogs, the festival, released something into our sphere where people feel more excited and fine to yell the words back at bands if the song touches some great wholesome nerve in their body. By ‘wholesome’ I mean in a way where ‘wholesome’ also includes fellatio or something, and picking flowers covered by dew.
So five nights in a row they played. I went to the beginning, the middle and the end – one at a hotel, one at a guitar shop, and one at our favourite bar. In between all this I played my own show, and ate donuts cooked by my brother, and drove in my car with the song ‘From Little Things Big Things Grow’ playing on the radio. When that song played my car and skin filled up with such power and energy that sometimes I feel – it’s happening more again lately – that is connected to myself but much, much, much bigger than myself. The song and everything connected to it made the energy leap, fizz, made my armhairs stand up, and made me yell right out loud in my car against guns and bombs. I felt like I was helping crack the bombs and guns in half with the force of my words and the force of this energy on the other side of the planet. This is a strange thing to happen, sure, but also not it’s at all strange. I mean, if there is a spirit of the universe, if there is a collective consciousness that includes all of the created things, or all of the universe, then surely it is crying out for PEACE.
At the middle show, at the guitar shop, a girl called Ellen and a girl called Maddi told me about the show I’d missed at Mojos. According to them, it was incredibly wonderful. Ellen talked with big eyes about what it felt like to be up there in the front of the crowd squished with all the beautiful beloved people we are surrounded by. And so, I thought about it for the next days.
How are we different? That we are making music rather than cleaning some part of a rocket launcher so that it hits its target, even though we know it might miss and kill some beloved, precious, young boys playing soccer in a field?
Well, of course, we were born here and that makes it about a million times easier. The story can be seen in many ways: My story for example, my grandparents fleeing from the second world war to come here, never going back to their own country, and my other grandparents, their countrymen and ancestors having something to do with the invasion of a whole country and the complete overtaking of it because of having had an industrial revolution, etc. But there is also peace among all that. There’s also my dad being ready for his number to get called up to go shoot kids and adults in Vietnam, but being ready in the way of knowing he’d go to prison instead of war.
Anyway… Right now, these past weeks, I’ve been asking myself the question – Who dropped the bomb? And I know that the answer isn’t as simple as “The person flying the plane” or “The person launching the rocket”. Even though it’s easier for us to live in basic peace here, and we have to, we are also part of the Archimedes’ Bath situation that leads to all these things.
The thing I’ve been thinking is to take seriously that everything is connected. Like, if I have a job where I’m digging up the steel that might get used in a bomb, I should do my best to make sure I know about it, and if need be, make it change. And if driving round so much means more oil getting dug up and more oil means more wars, then I should stop driving round so much. And if giving money away means little kids somewhere else will be more ok growing up and not want to shoot each other for land because they have all they need, then I can do that. And if my country is half all racist and weird, and happy to let people rot away if they have different colour skin or thicker beards or something, then I can be as kind as possible especially to the dickheads and maybe try one day to get one to make friends with a thick beard person….
This isn’t the greatest list in the world, because it’s just off the top of my head, a little peace cap that’s just the beginning of a full suit of peace armour that I need a lot of instructions on how to make and how to wear. I’m not even sure the cap is right. But the two things I’m going to start with as truth are these: 1. Living in peace and making music and being a good friend are not just nothing – they are important and good, and 2. It’s always time to take seriously and change if need be the things we do that might lead to peace or war behind the curtains of ‘our own life’. It’s always time to look down as we are about to step into the bath with Archimedes and see how much water we might be displacing.
There is a third, and it’s the most potent, and it runs through them all, but it’s about spiritual things, biggest things, and so I’ll keep that as a number for now 3., instead of a sentence.
Peace. Peace. Peace. Peace. Peace