A great deal of the time I spend on the road I am miserable. I am an introvert by nature, and being around people, on other people’s schedule all day, wears me out. However, I view happiness as being overrated. I’m not complaining despite what it may sound like in the first few sentences. I have gone on every tour I have been asked to and will continue to do so. Whenever I look back on a tour I am glad that I went. I feel that I have expanded my horizons and accomplished something. I have met new people, and seen new places, and at the very least provided people with a few hours of escape from the daily grind.
Life is often suffering and struggle. Despite the pretty pictures that lie, has climbing a mountain ever been easy? Yet, except for maybe the few and the dead, I bet anyone that has climbed one is glad that they did.
We are surrounded by images in modern society that tell us how happy we’re going to be if we only do a certain thing. Buy this deodorant, get laid, finally be happy. Go get a McDowell burger, be satiated, finally be happy. Buy a fancy car, impress your friends, finally be happy. Although many of these things may bring about happiness, it is only in a transient sense. Pretty soon you are stuck with yourself and right back to the problems you faced.
Love and friendship and being kind to people and doing good deeds and creating things that last and taking chances and experiencing life: These are the only kinds of things that will bring fulfillment. Anyone that tells you different is selling you snake oil.
I know like I sound like I am giving advice. Christ, for some reason that bothers me. Go out and find out for yourself. Don’t take my word for it. Some things you can only figure out for yourself.
Most everyone understands how easy it for two people to be at the same event and come away from it perceiving it as two totally different experiences. Communication can often break down between people because of the personal lenses that they are viewing things through. It’s hard to be completely open to something. Even if you are generally open to different experiences and try to take them for what they are, especially in the world of art, you have read certain books, seen certain movies, or heard certain albums that provide you with a context of understanding work. You also might bring with you whatever happened to you that day to an event. Then as time passes your memory may play tricks upon you as to how you actually experienced something.
I want to share an experience that I have had that shows how hard it can be to remember something as you truly experienced it. For those of you that haven’t been reading along, I am in a huge Neil Young phase right now. This has caused me to think back to the one and only Neil concert that I went to. This was during his Greendale tour, a tour that I thought was highly underrated by the way. Neil’s Greendale album tells the story of a small town and it’s inhabitants. On this tour he staged the album in full and he had actors on stage playing the various roles of the town’s characters. It was part live rock extravaganza and part play. Then for the encore he brought Crazy Horse back out and played a selection of hits at the end of the night. This part of the show was a traditional rock concert. I thought that the Greendale part of the show would suffer from this strict staging, but I actually really enjoyed it to my surprise.
Anyway, these two separate parts of the show were very different from a staging standpoint. Again, one half of the show had elements of a play running through it and the other half was a traditional rock concert. The lighting and stage theme were different for each part of the show. Also the instrumentation was different. Poncho Sampedro, of Crazy Horse, switched from keyboard in the Greendale half of the show to his more traditional Crazy Horse instrument of guitar.
And here is what it so strange to me. Looking back on the show when I think about watching it, I remember sitting in two different positions in regards to the stage, but I never moved. During the Greendale part I felt like I was closer and slightly to the right of the stage. For the Crazy Horse segment of hits I felt like I was slightly further away and slightly to the left of center stage. Yet I know that we stayed in our seats the whole time. I also know that I was not intoxicated under any substances as I went to the show with my parents. So again same seats, same show, and yet somehow my mind has tricked itself to make it feel as if I watched it from two different locations.
This made me think about how hard it can be for two people to communicate with each other. My dad says that we are often in this life in the same theater with people, but watching different movies. If my mind could trick itself to have two different perceptions of the same event, you can imagine how easily and how distant two people’s version of the same event could be. You can see how this it could make it hard to communicate ideas, especially artistic ideas which are often interpretive anyway, to different kinds of people. You could also see how in a court of law an eye witness could be unreliable. The mind is a complex place that can easily trick you. Or maybe I just had a contact high from what was in the air when Neil played Rocking in the Free World. Who knows such things?
One of the principle ideas of Larry David’s show, Curb Your Enthusiasm, is that people aren’t really all that interested in hearing about the great things that someone has been up to, hence the title. I realize that upon returning from Japan that there are very few people that I can share the experiences that I had with. There are people that flat out won’t care. There are people that will care, but can’t understand. Usually when I get back from a trip and people ask me how it is, I relay a couple of the stronger moments and move on. I don’t really want to bore anyone and I’m very aware that what I might have been through on a journey is not all that relatable. Sometimes, you just had to be there.
However, on this blog I try to use my personal likes and dislikes, my personal experiences and biases, as a way to take a different look at our culture and our world. So I will have no choice but to write here about what I’ve seen and thought over the last week in upcoming days. This trip has left me with a flood of emotions and ideas. I learned and experienced an incredible amount of things. I will try to not make it a simple trip journal, as again I hope not to bore you. I do hope to be able to use these experiences to dive into bigger ideas that might be of interest to those of you that have never been to this part of the world.
I left Tokyo on Monday at 6:40pm and somehow arrived back in Austin on Monday at 6pm. That’s right, I arrived earlier on Monday then when I departed. It’s probably as close to time travel as I’ll ever get. Tonight I rest. Tomorrow I will try to make some sense of what I saw and get back into the regular schedule of blogging.