It's a funny word. Very similar in appearance (and many many other ways to 'bless').
Bliss may mean different things to different people. And many may think they have experienced bliss. I think it's important for a person to have a clear understand of what bliss means to them before they set out trying to find it (and for the purposes of knowing what it is when it hits their life).
For me, bliss is the following:
A moment where time ceases to have any meaning and for which I am connected to the cosmic consciousness and experiencing love in its purest elemental form as the foundation of the universe.
The epiphany this weekend came in the following gift. I identified a handful of things which bring or have brought me bliss at one point in my life or another.
And it started this weekend with The Who.
I got a groupon to see The Who at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, OH. The groupon was to get a seat for $39.50 flat. No taxes, no service fees. This saved about $10 so I was down. The catch: you didn't know what your seat was until the night before the show. You knew the seating area: Upper Bowl, section 207-213. I was cool with that. I wasn't going to SEE The Who. I was going to HEAR and FEEL The Who in what may be one of their last live tours.
Thursday night I checked to see where my seat was.
Club Section 111.
Wait. What? Club Section 111. Row D.
I read the fine print of the groupon. They reserved the right to upgrade my seat to a better seat for the same price paid.
That started the awesome weekend off.
I got there in time to see Joan Jett kick things off. It was amazing. I don't know how old she is. But she's still hot. And she can still rock the balls of an arena. A hint of how surreal things were about to get this weekend came when her and the Blackhearts started playing "I Hate Myself For Loving You." That song was one of the songs I played with two of the bands I was in for the Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp in 2008. Something happened during that song.
I was transported to a place beyond concert spectator. I was transported to the stage at the Fillmore playing that song to a sold out crowd. The elation of that moment was magnified by being in the presence of the original artist playing that song live. I was lost. Lost in a moment. There was no time. There was the music. There was the feeling of playing that music. Of experiencing that music. Of being that music. The pure energy of that night 7 years ago melded with the energy in that arena Friday night.
No one knows what it's like...
That Joan Jett moment was the first inkling of the epiphany to come. At the time it happened and in the moments that followed it was little more than a 'feeling.' Nothing I could really identify right then. I was still awash in the waves of energy as The Who took to the stage. There was a palpable electricity in the air.
Countless songs flowed over me. And then the acoustic strains of "Behind Blue Eyes" rang out over a crowd that was, by that time, in a state of energized reverence. I found myself singing along. The song, one I have identified with since the moment I first heard it, hit me full on in every energy center of my body. Daltry, for all the issues he might have been having throughout the night bled his soul in to singing that song.
There are certain songs that touch me in such away that for whatever reason, I am unable to do anything but feel the purest and rawest of emotions when I play them. There are times I can force that in to the background by relegating the listening of that song to 'background mode.' Other times I can do nothing but feel.
To hear that song live...in that venue...with thousands singing along put me in a place that I can only describe as the pure bliss I defined above.
I was at once elevated to a place so far above myself and crushed to my soul. Immobile...singing the words from my heart....smiling the smile of an idiot with tears streaming down my face.
Had I been questioned at the time, I quite easily would have been mistook for someone on some substance or another. But the substance I was awash with in that moment was pure, unadulterated love. There was a giant blue eye on the jumbo screen behind the band. And in that moment the universe said to me, "I see you, Todd." Even now, what the acid-tripper would describe as flashbacks, flow through me as I recall that moment.
I was wrecked.
And it was amazing.
There were a few other moments during the show that approached that level. When they played, "Who Are You," I had a similar out of body experience that I had felt with the Joan Jett song, because it too was one that we played during one of the shows at RRFC.
I was leaving the concert. The following came to mind as I was exiting the parking garage (posted in FB at the time):
"You see the place you want to advance. Another also wants that space. An impasse. Others behind you and behind them. Also anxious to move forward. Yet all are stuck. Mired in themselves. You yield. Letting another advance in the space you wanted. The one behind them yields for you. And so on.
Suddenly all are moving. All advance when we yield to strangers. Allowing others to move ahead of us lets all move as one."
Life lesson learned in a parking garage.
It's true, though. Couple that life lesson with the fact that only one word was going through my brain at the time: Bliss.
My brain did a very sneaky connect-the-dots that it didn't tell me about. Memories, seemingly random, were being recalled as I was driving home. With each of these memories, a feeling washed over me.
The pattern and significance hit me as I stepped in to my apartment Friday night.
These memories were the times in my life when I have felt (or feel) that purest bliss.
- The day my daughter was born.
- When I experience the energy of being in a crowd lost in the music of a live band doing what they clearly love to do. And if they are a band that plays a song that has personal meaning to me, it it doubly so.
- BEING in that band, doing what they love, playing live music. (I later realized that I feel this way even if it's just me jamming with another person. It's the energy of people creating).
- Being in the throes of making love. For me there is a moment, not the orgasm, but as it's approaching where there is no separation. There is only an energy. A passion. A moment where time ceases to exist and there is nothing but pure bliss and pleasure.
- Writing. Not all my time writing. But the times where the mechanics of writing are happening without my knowledge. The times when I look and 3 hours have passed and I have something on the screen in front of me that I was nothing more than the conduit for. You see, in those moments for me, I am an observer. I don't make up the story. I'm watching it unfold in front of me. THOSE moments when I write, when time is irrelevant, are the moments where writing brings me bliss.
Once the pattern hit me, I collapsed on the couch. Unable to do anything but weep. This was perhaps the 2nd greatest gift I had ever been given in my life (the first, was the top of this list--the birth of my daughter).
(warning, potential jumpcut ahead)
I had a list of everything I wanted to get done Sunday...but really, the gift and its importance were still swimming in and out of my waking brain (and, it seems, my recently awakened brain). Rock on the Range was happening this weekend. The closing act Sunday was Linkin Park.
There are MANY more songs by Linkin Park that hit me in the core of my soul in the same way that Behind Blue Eyes does. There was a nagging I couldn't shake. You have to get to that concert. Ticketmaster was no help. The show had been sold out for months. You have to get to that concert. I posted on bookFace that I was looking for a ticket. A friend pointed to another friend of theirs. I contacted him. He didn't have tickets, but a friend of his was looking to get rid of two. I didn't need two. You have to get to that concert. The lesson needs to be cemented. I called the guy. A guy who was the friend of the guy who was a friend of my friend.
Yes. He would sell a single ticket.
It was shortly after noon on Sunday. I got in my car and was on the road by 1245 to get to a venue 15 minutes away. Two and a half hours later, I get the ticket. And I enter the arena.
The energy immediate floods my senses and soul.
You have done well. But there is more. Welcome to your life.
Throughout this whole weekend a friend that I had grown to know through Facebook was also at the arena. In from New York with her friends for ROTR. We wanted to at least meet up, because...how cool is that when you get to know someone on Bacefook and you can actually meet them?!
Getting the ticket was part of that. Seeing her and her friends was another gift. They welcomed me in to their group of friends and I had connection. Not one guy in an arena, but connection.
Now...to be fair, that was a bonus. I would have still seen the concert by myself, but seeing it with friends made it way cooler.
And then, like that...6 hours of live music later...it was time for Linkin Park.
By the time they were done, I could no more have told you my name than told you what planet I was on.
The lesson of bliss had been forever scorched in my brain.
And it seemed so simple. Looking at the list.
There was only one thing on the list I could never do again. The birth of my daughter was a singularity in this universe. A moment in time where everything I had known before suddenly vanished. It is the purest bliss I have ever or will ever feel.
Everything else on the list, though.....EACH of those things are things I can continue to do. Some easier than others. Some I can (and will) do every day. Others when the opportunity arises.
I know I've written a lot to this point, but believe me when I say...I will re-read this post and realize that I still have not put in to words in any adequate way, the feeling that this weekend left me with.
The only thing I can do is honor the gift. Share it. Help others find their bliss.
That's the lesson.