Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Rockchemist

Happy Earth Day, comrades!

  Have you heard the story The Alchemist?  To sum it up in the bluntest of terms, a dude goes looking for a treasure, travels far and wide, and in a distant land, figures out it's under his stove.  At home.

Or something like that.

  I was just working on some songwriting, and I was "taking inventory."  It's a new thing I do when I write.  I see what's going on in my mind, and what I'd like to write about.  I was sitting hunched over my desk, inside, on the most beautiful earth day I can remember.  Suddenly, in a corner of my mind, I discovered a much younger version of myself, sitting there in a dusty corner with 80's toys.  I had forgotten about him, and he wanted to forget all of this boring adult work, and go outside.  So, I finished up the writing, and wandered out into the light from our nearest star.

  Immediately I was drawn to the flowers under the dogwood tree.  I really need to mow the lawn, but an unexpected benefit from my procrastination is the miniature meadow of wildflowers under the tree.  I crouched down, and watched the bees tend their garden.   They looked like flying puzzles, ones which I could spend lifetimes studying.  Some of the plants flickered into recognition.  "Creeping Charlie...Dandelion...Indian Strawberry...Violet.."

  I remembered how I would get the same sense of delight witnessing nature as a child.  I wanted to be part of it.  So, I begin to study it.  I was this close to becoming a naturalist instead of musician.  But, studying something brings a different sort of joy, and in a way, only further removes one from the initial awe of the situation.  Perhaps my way is just to sit with the delight and magic, just watching.  (Don't get me wrong, I have the greatest respect for the study of nature, and believe it essential to the planet's well-being.)

  I wondered if I was doing the same thing with music, dissecting the mystical roar of the electric guitar into specifications of amplifier circuits, music theory, and techniques.

  I realized that it was a bit of an Alchemist moment for me...studying nature so thoroughly, wanting to be part of it.  Studying music so thoroughly, that it seemed tired sometimes.  And now, in a home I had purchased with the money I made from music, across from a forest I had helped save with my involvement in grassroots organizing....the answer I had been looking for was just to sit and look at the weeds blooming so stunningly in an unkempt simply sit with the magic, not to do anything with it.  Sort of like what psychologist Erich Fromm would say..."To have, or to be?"

So, I just lay in the grass with my eyes closed, feeling the sun on my face as the windchimes sang and the bees tended their garden.

(Unlike The Alchemist, there's no way I'm looking under the stove, though.)

Happy Earth Day.  May you find what you're looking for.

- Josh 


diane in ar said...

Oh Josh - what a wonderful blog post - (and yes I have read "The Alchemist - after reading a bone sigh of your mom's I found the book and read it). Love the introspection and thought processes - your music will certainly only get better and better (from already great) with this way of thinking - thank you for sharing!!!

Josh Urban said...

Aw, thanks, Diane! :) Thanks for reading, and the kind words of support!