deadheadsdancingI am currently listening to a recording of a concert that marks the very last time I “got my freak on”. The phrase means different things to different people, so let me explain what I mean…

I’m a Dead Head. I have been for well over 30 years. I’ve spent my years on the road going from show to show. At any given time I sold shirts, or posters, or beer, or spaghetti, or the ever-present grilled cheese sandwich, all to finance my trip to the next show. Yes, my answering machine was full the day Jerry died. The first message on the tape was my mother calling to see how I was taking the news. For me, the saddest part of that day was not the realization that he had died (his health had been up and down for years, so we always knew it was going to be a relatively short ride), but it was more that an entire chapter of my life had just ended. There was going to be sounds, feelings, and epiphanies I would never get to experience again. There was entire groups of people I would lose touch with because we only saw each other at shows. There was also the huge loss of no longer being part of “the x-factor” again.

There was a synergy that came from being fully immersed in the experience at one of their shows. There was a something that would happen to you that didn’t happen to everyone, it wasn’t guaranteed. Some shows it would happen to lots of us at once. You would look over and suddenly make eye contact with a stranger at just the right time and both of you would grin from ear to ear, knowing that you both just felt it, and then you would go off on your own again… like everyone else. And that thing wouldn’t happen unless you were actually there, and it didn’t happen every night, or only during particular songs. And the band knew it too, they relied on it. And when the conditions were just right there was an electricity in the air that would join band and crowd, sound and emotion, mind and body and spirit, and all would become one, rising above our normal existence for a while. But you had to be there because you too were an important variable in this chaotic experiment. If you wanted to go there you couldn’t hold on too tight, you had to let go.

Describing the experience is impossible. There’s an old saying that goes something like “writing about music is like dancing about architecture”, and describing this experience is several orders of magnitude more abstract. But as far as I am concerned the actual experience itself is at least as many orders of magnitude more important because it helps us learn to open our minds. It also helps us remove the predisposed limitations we’ve been taught and learned throughout our life, so that we can begin to be able to see the possibilities that are only visible when we forget we’re supposed to have limits.

It seems that the closer we stick to our ego/self, the more tied we become to limitations like: time as a linear concept, acceptable and unacceptable or good and bad, as well as all of the basic limitations that keep us from exploring and looking around that one corner we think we shouldn’t look around. The further away we get from our ego/self, the less tethered we are to everything: time, space, limitations, all of the things we normally think of when we think of our experience as humans. Even the concept of time itself becomes irrelevant.

Think about it this way: Why is it that when I’m enjoying music, really getting in to it… eyes closed, head moving, just being transported with an evening of music from my favorite musician, that I can look up at the end of the music and realize that maybe hours have passed, but it literally felt like only a few minutes! It seems like that the more I lose myself in the moment, the more the moment ceases to be marked with a beginning or an end. Yet, if on the other hand, I am stuck listening to some crap while I’m waiting on the phone because Tech Support is experiencing “higher than normal call volume” it can literally seem like an eternity! Even though the support call might only have been 10 minutes, it seems twenty times longer than an entire evening of music that I love and can get lost in. The same idea can be said about daydreaming. I’m sitting in class and the teacher starts to drone on, the next thing I know the class is over, an hour has gone by, and I have no memory of the the experience. My mind was literally in another place and time, sorting through other ideas and projects. It left me, but yet I went with it. Where did I go? And how comes sometimes those trips are so creative or beneficial? Some of us were labelled daydreamers as children, and many times it’s those same people who end up the artists, musicians and philosophers. Or in other words, we’re the ones who naturally don’t think linear.

We know that time is our own experience, our own construct. That is to say, other creature on this earth experience time differently than us. For example, have you ever noticed that if you leave the house and come back 5 minutes, or even 5 hours later, your dog is just as crazy excited to see you either way? It’s as if their concept of time is completely different than ours and instead they are always in the moment (except dinner time… my dog starts pacing at exactly 5:30). For us, the idea of time is part of the basic package that comes with a mind. And just like the other items in that basic package, it can be undone or circumnavigated. That’s what Lamas and Yogis have been doing for centuries. But in their case they’re learning how to control it, slowly and methodically. But yet, without the years of mindfulness training, you and I can enjoy a small part of that experience by losing ourselves in music, and circumnavigating time. Albert Einstein recognized this felixibility of time in relation to the mind when he said “Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. That’s relativity.”

So when I “got my freak on” at that show a few years ago it wasn’t a matter of “Where did the time go?”, it was more like “Where did I go without time?!” I truly wonder if isn’t at these instances that we dabble in a form of quantum travel. Especially since sometimes these experiences are so transformative that we literally come back a different person. As if I actually switched places with some other Dave who was also tripping through the quantum foam…