Yeah, I'm still processing the experience in Mexico.
Let me say that, in one way or another, you really need to have an experience like that. No, maybe not Guitar Circle per se. But some experience that draws you out of your comfort zone and into something you aren't in control of. And even better if it's in a different country. And then something that has a chance of generating memories you will retain for the rest of your life. Not exactly a vacation. And there are lots of organizations and companies that can provide that: Companies that do intense hiking or outdoors experience, companies that take you to Antarctica
, companies that can take you on some sort of "pilgrimage
". There's lots of stuff out there.
As for me in Tepoztlan, there are some many wondrous memories that will stay with me and, most likely, shape me. For instance...
1. House of guitars. With low lights and with Luciano giving each of us 50 guitarists a little riff to play, a trilling, roiling ambiance was built up. And shortly thereafter, we started moving and eventually breaking into little groups and then circling or reforming into one big circle and then charging into the center with our guitars and then back out: Divine and mysterious chaos in the middle of mountainous rural mexico.
2. Humming "One of a Thousand Regrets": About 6 of us played this in someone's room, and the Mexican Guitar Circlers introduced us to the tradition or humming the main melody while playing it for the second time. And this, perhaps at 10:00PM or 11:00PM at night.
3. "Santorina Globes": At least, that what I thought someone called the orange paper spheres lit by candle from within that were hoovering about the center of town and that we could see from our little Maronite compound. These were cast aloft to commemorate some sort of saint or other that I can no longer remember.
4. Putting together our little set. Us Intros were tasked by Fripp to come up with 7 pieces: 2 duets, 2 trios, 1 solo, 1 four piece and one piece with all of us. And we were only given a couple of days. And really, we didn't have more than a bunch of hours as we kept getting pulled into dishwashing and other cleaning duties. So by "the day of", I pretty much gave up worrying about it: If we had stuff to play then fine, we'd try, but if not then fuckit: I wasn't going to worry about pulling off the impossible. And yet the impossible occurred: By pulling together all the little musical pieces we had at the last moment, we played 7 wonderful little pieces. As we entered the ballroom, however, we were faced with disorganized chairs and a few people in silly costumes and with interrupting noisemakers and heckling. So, if we fucked up it was only natural. But we pulled off a great set and then everyone started demanded an encore, which we didn't have. So Anthony tried to get away with playing a single note as our encore, which we played and then exited (I saw Fripp throw up his hands in exasperation as we smiled and exited). Outside the ballroom again, however, we heard the clapping and whistling and then someone came out to tell us to play our whole set again, which we did. And during one song (in which our lively Mexicana sang), a bunch of us broke into tears and I swear I saw Robert wiping tears from his eyes too. THAT was a moment: I wasn't even playing that song, but I felt like I was and felt like I had contributed because I supported what everyone was trying to do and I got the fuck out of the way
. It wasn't about ME: It was about making music, and being inside it, which I did and was.
5. The dogs and roosters. The full moon would come up somewhere around 3:00AM and the dogs would go apeshit in unision and the roosters were all crowing. And there was a host of other birds and assorted animals making their sounds all night long.
6. T'ai Chi Ch'uan. Luciano would lead us twice a day in a series of Yang style exercises. Not the main form, mind you, but a bunch of traditional chi-building exercises that actually taxed even a reasonably in-shape person, due to the high altitude.
7. Alexander Technique. We had two Alexnader technique ladies, one of which was the very experienced Sandra Bain Cushman
. If you are unfamiliar with Alexnader technique, it's basically the "science" of moving and holding your body in a way that's commensurate with the way it's joined all together and the way it "hangs". Society teaches us to hld our bodies (and guitars!) in a way that isn't optimal for our health and well-being, and Sandra teaches us to sit, stand, and even (AT) liedown in such a way that keeps us from cramping up or causing us pain.
8. Morning sitting with Robert. At 7:15 each morning we'd spend 45 minutes just sitting in the chapel, learning to do "nothing". Core to Guitar Circle is the notion that, if we can tell our bodies to do nothing for 45 minutes, perhaps after that we can tell our bodies to do something. This, of course, in contrast to the usual autonomic routines our body and mind default into.
So, quite a meditative and powerful experience. I would love to do it again some times. And who knows? Maybe I will.