The ups and downs of the rock 'n' roll lifestyle have a very strange effect on the human condition. I'm sure all kinds of jobs take a toll on us in their own way, especially given the capitalistic nature of survival in the modern world.
In my field of work, which is music, there is a constant struggle between outright arrogance and humility. From one side you are put on this imaginary pedestal built of melting ice, and from another you are genuinely having a positive and powerful impact on the lives of others, or in short entertaining them for the mere moments they share with you.
I had a very hard time finding my voice and identity in the first couple of years when I came to the US. The fake attention and the plastic smiles really got to my head in the beginning. There was so much hype around our story, with subsequent interest from labels, agents, managers etc... that I myself became a victim of this charade masquerading on all media outlets as an exotic animal from the east. I mean it wasn't all that bad, if it wasn't because of all the attention we got for being an underground band from Iran, we never would have made it as far as we did. The whole experience was certainly a wake up call. The most powerful thing however was those who genuinely connected with us as human beings, empathizing with our passion and drive. I'll never forget the amount of beautiful emails I got from people around the world telling us how inspired they were by our adventure. That was by far the most rewarding part for me.
I think as an artist it's alright to have some delusions of grandeur, because you have to believe in something great in order to achieve it, but there is a very fine line between being ambitious and delusional. Consistency is the most difficult aspect in my opinion. And for some it might be effortless, but generally speaking, you really have to work hard to create something good. All I ever wanted was for my music to speak for itself regardless of my story.
After having a nervous breakdown following one of our tours, I decided to try my luck at something else in order to get a grip of my sanity. A friend of mine had suggested I try meditation, specifically the style of Vipassana. So i set out to find a place where they teach this type of meditation. Something that struck me as very interesting from the second I researched about Vipassana was that unlike many other schools of meditation this program didn't cost a penny. All you have to do is sign up in advance and show up at the school and they will feed you and give you a room for 10 days and all you have to do is meditate from early morning into the late evening in the meditation hall, while taking a vow of silence for the entire trip.
The fact that I could just disconnect from the world for 10 days was enough for me to give this a try. And the experience did not disappoint at all, even though I didn't necessarily agree 100% with all tenets of their philosophy, it really helped me find some peace. Up to this point all I was doing was feeding my ego, now it was time to dissolve it. I won't get into every detail of the trip as that is another story to tell, but there was one experience that I had there that changed my life.
The compound that I was residing in had a small path in the forest that we could use as a place to walk around. We would walk in circles in the field and forest in between the meditation sessions to shake off the pain of constantly sitting in a lotus or cross legged position. We would take these walks while averting our gazes from the other meditators, because as I mentioned earlier, all communication is forbidden while you are learning the meditation technique. Only your teacher can communicate with you. The whole purpose of this meditation is mindful self awareness. And in order to get a glimpse of a higher state of consciousness you have to eliminate all external forces that can distract you from delving deeper within yourself.
So one night I couldn't fall asleep so I got up and started walking around, lost in my own thoughts I headed towards the forest. I proceeded to walk on the path for a little while, then on a whim as if driven by some cosmic purpose decided to just go off the tracks and head into the heart of the forest. As I aimlessly trekked deeper and deeper in, I realized that I had gone far enough that I couldn't see the lights of the compound and I didn't have a flashlight or anything to find my way back. Here I was in this pitch black darkness, engulfed by the shadows of large trees, with only the sound of crackling branches and the wind shaking the leaves. For a split second I was overtaken by this fear of the unknown not being able to see anything around me at all, but then I started thinking about ancient travellers and adventurers and how they would survive under such conditions.
When your mind is clouded with fear, it is impossible to think rationally and with complete awareness. And with that thought, all of a sudden I had this epiphany: "to cross over to the light, one must embrace the dark..." I let the fear sink in. And I became calm and collected. I started to think much clearly as to how I have to get back. It was as though my brain was boosted with this newfound awareness and intelligence that was previously non-existent.
This simple realization applied to everything I faced in my life. And ever since that incident, I've dealt much better with my fears and challenges.
This song is inspired by that incident: