in 2012, on the first night of the Koyaaniscutesy tour, I got on stage, adopted my warrior stance (which had been carefully cultivated through meditation, practice, and performance), started playing...fully expecting an invisible shell to shield and guide me through the ethereal realm of improvisation, yet, nothing. No mysticism, no cocoon, no interior guide. The very first sound I made was not in any way my accustomed rich, lush, warbly analog tape haze of a dream. Instead, it was just me for all the world naked with my strings and electronics. Stark and very, very exposed. How I wished to stop the show (a few seconds in) and throw my fists to the sky demanding an explanation!
I had not done all this soulwork to be so ordinary. But somehow (professionalism, tenacity, curiosity) I persevered, playing through the matter-of-fact-ness, the dry, blunt interaction with material reality from which I had until then sought escapes: transformation! art! knowledge! coolness!
Still figuring the first night a fluke, my second performance would surely find me nestled in the ol' familiar transportative alter-ego, tucked away from the world of nerves, light bills, and unkind reviews. Note one: see night one for details. Again, as present as the sea is deep. No moonshot, no imaginary beloved stage persona, just me moving my fingers, heart and mind, connecting with an audience in a genuine exchange of discovery. For me, for them. Unbelievably believable. No artifice, no wizardry behind the curtain. Aided and abetted by wonderful musical implements, of course, but without the delusion of grandiosity, without the charismatic temptation of inflated self.
Could I do this? Perform without the crutch of fantasy? Each night of the tour, no Sasha Fierce (yes, this is the first and last time I'll invoke Beyoncé when describing my spiritual development), no conceptual makeup, no contrived getup, no dazzling costume, no encompassing armor. The cobwebs of constructed illusion were from this point sufficiently blown away, a wholly unexpected consequence of systematic exploration of the inner workings of my mind. When the lid comes off, the presence of present replaces longing for past or future or any other type of not here.