I've been feeling sick, and I was just completely fragged to the point of shutdown when we got home this evening, so I took a nap. I woke up after having had this very vivid dream.
I was at Burning Man (but it wasn't really Burning Man). Up on this nearby hill was a ring of trees. The hillside itself was mostly treeless, but there was a ring of trees at the crown of the hill, and a few sparse trees at the peak. As I walked through the trees to the top of the hill, I realized there was a band playing Rush, and I somehow deduced that it was a cover band that I'd heard of. In the dream, I knew their name and it was the title of one of RUSH's albums or songs, but now I can't remember what it was. Their name was one word... arrrgh, I still can't remember what it was. Anyways, they were pretty good, though they were a 6 or 7 piece band (HA!). There were playing playing mostly late 70's, early 80's Rush tunes... pretty tight, with a few creative liberties thrown in here and there. They even kind of looked like Geddy Neil and Alex during the late 70's. They were set up on the top of the hill on a low wooden riser with several tree trunks coming up through it. All around were long low wooden benches. There were quite a few people sitting around watching them, though no one was really all that enthusiastic except for me. I listened for a while, but was feeling strangely self conscious and restless. So I wandered away a bit. I found this long line of people, dressed in very late 60's, early 70's attire waiting to slither and scramble down what basically amounted to a dry waterfall. They were trying to descend in some sort of unison with the beat that the band was playing. I was baffled by why they were doing this, though I wanted to try climbing UP, as it looked like an interesting problem.
Now mind you, this whole time, throughout the music and the observation of the waterfall descenders, I was constantly thinking of my friend Merritt, and wishing he could be there to experience this with me. I knew that he would really appreciate it. Realization dawned on me that I had come to Burning Man alone (although this whole experience bears absolutely NO resemblance to any experience I've ever had at Burning Man, nor did the geography bear any resemblance to that of the black rock desert). I somehow knew that Merritt was also attending Burning Man, but I didn't know where he was camped, and I knew that he didn't know that this Rush cover band was playing on a nearby hillside. It was all very distressing for some reason.
Then I woke up.
I lay in bed for a while thinking about my dream, somewhat puzzled by my reactions to being alone at a musical performance, and also at Burning Man. I came to wonder if my appreciation of live music was dependant on the presence of friendly company. Am I so much of herd animal that I need validation of things I enjoy from friendly faces?
This may seem tangential, but bear with me. I recently attended a Nuclear Rabbit show at the Phoenix Theater in Petaluma. It had been YEARS since I'd seen a show at the Phoenix. The sound at the Phoenix is usually.. mediocre. The people mixing the sound are usually rather amateurish and untrained it seems, but this isn't surprising given the venue. Every show I've ever seen there has been an all ages show, which usually means you see a lot of young kids. They range from about 10 on upwards, but mostly concentrated around 14-16 yrs old. In truth, I felt like an old man, especially during the first two acts who's artists were both considerably younger than me. The guys from Nuclear Rabbit are all around my age, though the demographic of my age group was sorely underrepresented. Never mind... the point is, I felt a bit out of place, although I did end up taking to a guy named Rick (I think that was his name) for a while outside the venue. He was about 46 and had taken his nephew who was 16 or 17 to the show. He'd never heard of Nuclear Rabbit, but being a musician and a pretty open minded guy, he was there. We chatted about music and work and ended up standing together for part of the show, commenting on sound, guitar technique, interesting people in the audience and what-not. It was nice. I doubt I'll ever see or talk to him again, but I'd walk up and say "hi" if I recognized him somewhere. In case you were wondering, Rabbit was pretty good, though Gene and Greg were pretty "chatty". The Broccoli Tacos were suprisingly good, their guitarist being their most impressive asset and appearing to be able to directly channel Randy Rhodes into his guitar.
My point in all of this is: I believe we are creatures of the herd. We need to share our joy in order for it to fully blossom. Also: For all of our philisophical posturing on the importance of the individual, our baser emotions and hormones often create a longing to belong. To fit in. To be accepted by a tribe. These urges and subconscious (and sometimes unconscious) desires are sometimes brought to light in dreams. Sometimes our dreams... don't mean a damn thing, the equivalent of mental vomit. A spew of random images and thoughts that may appear to have meaning, but don't hold up under scrutiny. Does my dream have meaning, or is it regurgitated mental stew? I'm still not sure. At least now I can go back to bed and stop thinking about this crap.
I had a conversation with my friend Leila about this post, and I must make some clarifications: I believe that humans can experience joy fully alone, but for it to grow exponentially, it must be shared, as this seems to have a "kickback effect". I also came to realize that I DO enjoy attending events by myself, as no one else's agenda can compromise my own. HOWEVER, the aforementioned "kickback effect" is usually well worth the tradeoff.