Every year we make a resolution to change ourselves.
This year I will make a resolution to be myself. (Author unknown.)
NOW there’s a new approach to 2023, a resolution to be me and to be me alone, a challenge if ever I came across a challenge and one that I will welcome and keep you posted.
The great 17th century Zen master Bankei, author of The Unborn Mind, says that all we have to do is to be ourselves. To connect with the unborn mind that has not been contaminated by the conditioning of how things should be, instead of how they are. To hear the song of a bird without having to label the singer or the song.
I had the good fortune to enjoy a cuppa with a good friend of mine, Paul Kelly, an amazing drummer and one of the founders of the punk rock band The Lids. Paul no longer resides on the Ormeau Road, he packed up his drum kit and headed to dwell in God’s own county, Clare, on the shores of Lough Derg, not to be mistaken with the dry burnt toast of the notorious Donegal Lough Derg, where many a penance was paid with foot blisters. Our souls bled for our souls' redemption.
Reminiscing about the old days of punk and rock and roll, we touched on how, a bit like Bankei’s unborn mind, Punk transcended labelling and following the sheep, Punk being that which was undefined and not seen through the mirage of conditioning. Paul’s an amazing drummer and lyricist, a man who could see the big picture when others were caught up in the daily chloroform of popular press and television.
We talked about the seventies and the clear voices against oppression, racism and capitalism. Remembering bands like the Gang of Four, an English band who wrote and sang about capitalism and the torture chamber known as Long Kesh. Other great bands in Belfast at the time also cried out the war cry of that time.
As we drank our petty bourgeois lattes, seated in leather chairs, we remembered the courage of that time and again we remembered how folk took to the streets to voice their voices against injustice . That voice was the voice of the unborn mind that knew no bounds and was not going to be conditioned into submission. We tracked our journeys from then to now, noticing how the music had changed and somehow so had the mood. We agreed that the only way to be is to be one’s self, allowing others to be who they wish to be. A kind of live and let live, I suppose.
We reminisced about the fun times, when we hawked our gear from town to town, spreading the word. Not only was Paul an amazing drummer, he also had access to an old Bedford van that carried one and all, including the instruments. We pondered the cycle of life and how history repeats itself, comparing now to the days of Thatcher, wondering when we will wake up to these decadent days, when government stash the cash in their party whilst they party. Rome comes to mind, whilst Nero fiddled.
The cycle also has turned for The Lids, as they have reformed and are presently practising some new tracks. The band line-up has changed, but I’m told that the sound remains the same. And sometimes that's not so bad.