The second noble truth of the Buddha says that all suffering comes from conditions of attachment. Typically the suffering manifests itself in two forms, either attaching ourselves to the anticipation of things that might happen in the future or by dwelling too strongly on things that have happened in the past. Often it’s a combination of both. The solution is to try and stay within the present as much as possible. The present is where all things happen. Meditation is a great tool for that. Another great tool for staying present is playing music. It’s also a fun place to explore where my mind continues to prove the point of the second noble truth.
I had a gig with a new band this week. While playing, I caught myself focusing on how the audience was reacting to the music. The lights made it difficult to see. I started thinking to myself, Are people into it? No one is dancing. People appeared to be dancing for the band before. Maybe they don’t like us as much? I should have practiced more… Notice how, in just a split second, my mind went from speculating on the past to the future and back.
Soon after having these thoughts I caught myself speeding up my playing and then, of course, I missed a cord change on my guitar. For that moment I was not focused on the music. I was nervous, speculating the audience wasn’t having a good time. I was also comparing myself to the band that played before. My ego got involved and the music suffered. Luckily, I was able to step back and focus on just playing and connecting with my bandmates. In the long run, it turned out to be a pretty successful gig.
By wishing too hard for better times we often make our present lives feel more empty and depressing than they need to be. On the other hand, when we attach ourselves to the idea of feeling good all the time and try to avoid or block out the suffering that inevitably enters our lives, from time to time, we create more anxiety for ourselves in the now. It can be a real balancing act but just like playing music, I try to stay present with the things in the room that I can control and try to stay in time and in tune with the all the other stuff the best I can. Enjoy the music. Love – MMM
July’s playlist includes songs by Lucy Arnell, Silver Jews, Tinariwen, Lo Tom, Laurie Anderson, ZZ Top, Ajoy Chakrabarty, Big Thief, Neil Young, Sleater Kinney, Golden Shoulders Papa M and more…
(Subscribe to get a new playlist every 1st Monday of the month. Click on my user link or search: Major Matt’s 1st Monday on Spotify to cruise past playlists and discover more music.)