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Archive of ‘Zen’ category

Musicians! You Have Made It Already!

Musicians, you have ‘made it’ already.

So relax, will ya?

How I Made It As A Musician

I was sitting out in the sun a year or so ago (maybe two) and I suddenly thought to myself – what’s the hurry?

Hey, the sun will do that to you right?

But truly what is the hurry? What’s the big internal hurry to “make it” as a musician?

Suddenly I realised that I was here already. That I had “made it” already, so this means I have permission to just relax and enjoy being a musician just because I am one.

Just like Bob Dylan can. Or whoever your hero is.

Relax and Make Music As You Feel Like Doing It

Last summer I got really busy, played a bunch of gigs and met all kindsof new people. It was the most fertile music summer I have had in ages. Then winter hit and I retreated.

And it felt right.

Now spring is here and I am gearing up again to make some more music, do some more gigs.

And after a head-down-bums-up winter of hard work I have a new recording that I wannna get made and another year’s life experience under my belt (that just makes my music even tastier) and I feel even more Zen about it all than ever.

But not that bullshit zen attitude that I superimposed on my musicianship back in my late twenties. Back then I was flopping around, slacking off saying “hey man, every thing is nothing, I got no agenda” but really I was burning up because even though I was gigging all the time, I wasn’t living up to the defunct musician model in my brain.

So I had serious dissonance, discord, disturbance.

Now I know I am playing a kind of music that I will play all my life and then I will die. And that’s cool with me. there’s no permanence. Even the Beatles and Elvis will be forgotten one day (read some Asimov to give you that sense of perspective).

So all that matters is making music now.

And when you’re not making music, all that matters is what you are doing that isn’t making music now.

So yeah, I am looking forward to playing more and better gigs, and making new recordings. And if it takes off it takes off. But if I just enjoy playing so-called dive gigs for the rest of my life, well, I actually do enjoy 99% of them so what’s the big deal?

There is no big deal, that’s the lesson grasshopper.

YOU are no big deal.

So just play some music mofo, and stop moaning about how you haven’t made it yet – because you’re wrong about that.

You have made it.

This is it.

Are you an old sad-case wanna-be?

I was watching the movie Juno last (yes I mostly spend Friday nights at home watching vids with the wife these days, 9 month old child to look after and all) and the character played by Jason Bateman struck a nerve. He is a married suburban musician about mid-thirties who is frustrated about his career having stalled and consequently can’t commit to having a child and, as his on-screen wife puts it, “growing up”.

Suddenly I had a moment, like “fuck, I am like THAT guy? Am I an old sad-case who still thinks he’s gonna be the next Kurt Cobain?”

Then I relaxed, because the answer is no. My style of music has changed to one that would still suit me when I am an old man and I am in fact totally happy with where we live, our little family life and our modest day-to-day concerns, things like “can we get the baby to sleep through the night if we feed her up before bed” and “just which day IS bin day anyway?”. It’s true that I do miss gigging but I have my CD ready to go out and get gigs again and so very soon I will be back on that horse. And it is true that I often fantasize about getting out on stage in front of huge crowds again like I got to when I was like twenty four (11 years ago!) and that I would happily accept a level of recognition again and in fact do actively court it. BUT it is also true that I am pretty happy with just taking every moment as it comes, and as long as I am free to express myself myself through music and words, without being trapped in some hellish 9-to-5 job all week, then I am cool with however it all turns out. In fact sometimes I think about what it must be like to be like one of my heroes like Nick Cave and I think “Jeez, all those airplanes, all that rushing about, bummer.”

So I am getting my music out there again, doing one thing every day, but sometimes the things I do are pretty small, and truth is if I desperately wanted out of my situation I would be doing a whole lot more than one little thing every day. But I don’t want out of my situation, I am the kind of content that makes teenage kids puke, and that’s cool. I did my time being a wastoid rebel on the run (from myself). Now I just wanna enjoy life and my family, and play some music too.

But if you are unhappy with your life, if you are a stuck-in-a-rut suburban musician who feels like a rat in a cage, then for fuck’s sake – don’t take it out on the people in your life, it’s not their fault that you have an itch. Get up off the couch and go for it. Fact is: if you have even just SOME talent and a LOT of drive, then you can do it. Plenty do. It can be hard, but it is do-able if you keep it real and work like a dog at it.

And your wife/husband/partner/kids will respect you all the more for it too. They may knock you down when you TALK about it, but that’s just a mixture of their own limiting beliefs reflected onto you plus genuine concern for your mental well-being. If you actually go out and start DOING it, they will soon change their tune and probably get behind you and help. If they don’t then they may be the wrong partner for you – the kids you gotta keep though ok?
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RebelZen.com is go!

Me and my mate Steve have started a new blog call Rebel Zen.

You can see by the categories I have chosen for this here post what the theme of Rebel Zen will be about (and hopefully in a refreshing and dynamic way). I guess in some ways it will pick up from where The Contemporary Taoist left off but this time it’s a dynamic duo rather than just me, and also it will be more focussed and *cough* mature 😉

Actually Rebel Zen is going to be more than a blog, but one thing at a time.

We will be posting a fair bit over the next week. Mostly reworked old posts or articles that fit the theme, and then new stuff will begin to go online soon.

Anyway head on over and witness the birthing pains of our new child 🙂

This blog will continue but will probably focus more on music. Not sure yet but probably.

The Five Minute Method to get You Massively, Totally Inspired right now …

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I love our new Mac and I spent all day mucking about getting an iBook G3 (tangerine clamshell) (like these in the pictures) running properly as well.
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It was tiring grinding through Google search after Google search trying to make heads or tails out of obscure geek-speak in forums and what-not. I am NOT a geek. I HATE fiddling around with software trying to make it work (why do you think I love Macs so much?) And at the end of the day, I felt a bit flat. I wondered if I had wasted the day just getting this one computer to work. It most totally had not been my intention that it take, like, so freakin’ long.

Then I started on another task that I had been putting off for a while, clearing up all my old boxes of papers and junk in my new bungalow workspace that I am setting up*. Next thing you know I am confronted with photos and objects and posters and general miscellany that reminded me of my entire life so far. My childhood. My teenage years. My Twenties and the first half of my Thirties.

A fun life so far, if not always noble. A brave life so far, if not always sensible.

And it occurred to me how different I have become in the way that as a teenager and throughout my early-mid Twenties, I was highly driven by pursuing my dreams. Driven to the point where I was generally agitated and/or depressed if I was not either smashed or stoned or actively chasing my fantasies (which were mostly about becoming the next David Bowie or something like that).

I am not really like that anymore because I know that I am already here, and that was all I ever needed all along.

BUT I am still motivated to chase my dreams, just because chasing dreams is work and we all have to work so it might as well be at being a Dream Chaser. And despite my “whole zen trip” it seems my dreams are in some ways more complicated now than they were, deeper rather than just outrageous for the sake it.

Thankfully I am more patient now. Even though I find it easier to remember the rock-out-on-stage-in-front-of-3000-people days than the twiddle-with-the-fucking-computer-until-it-bloody-well-gives-in-and-works-already days, and even though I wonder where the hell those grandiose days went, the truth is these were just a handful of (incredible) moments, the rest of the time was either hard work, or tedious, or both.

There always were twiddle-with-the-computer-days, and there always will be. They are necessary.

Like I said, the trick is to remember that you are already here, and otherwise to keep this nugget by Steve Jobs (the Apple computer guy) in mind:

“I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”

You see, dude, it’s a balancing act.

The small tedious parts have to be worth it because of the greater, wonderful whole. I wouldn’t ever have wanted to get bogged down in details all day for nothing, but in the context of achieving my dreams, of living life in a way that makes me and others happy, then I couldn’t have thought of a better thing to do with my time (than fiddle with the fucking computer).

So anyway the five minute method is this:

1) ask yourself if this blog post has you feeling massively, totally inspired right now. If so, get on with it.

2) if not, read the Steve Jobs Commencement address. It’s not breaking news, but if you haven’t read it, then you should. It’s pure gold…

*Finally, The Office of Imagination and Procedure becomes reality 🙂 more on that soon, oh breathless masses!

You Are Already Here

Well I have been busy busy finishing up work for the year and planning next year and so I have nothing much to say right now so I am going to post an excerpt from a free e-book that I was just flicking through that is in my opinion very much spot on.

Note: The following is NOT by me, It is by somebody called Jamie Smart, from an e-book called “The Top 10 Secrets of Unconditional Happiness”, which I downloaded free here.

(In my opinion) most of the book is pretty run-of-the-mill, recycled (but useful) stuff, but the following hit the spot for me in a BIG way:

“You are already here.

The place you thought you’d get to once you’d made the changes, achieved the
goals, completed the journey; you’re already here. In fact, you never left. The only
thing that has ever stopped you from experiencing the reality of being here is the
idea that you need to be somewhere else.

The only thing that is (or can) stop you from experiencing the peace and fulfillment
of now is the idea that peace and fulfillment is elsewhere, in something else, a
different experience, further on down the road.

But it isn’t. You’re here, and you always have been. You’re here, and you always will
be. So you can stop struggling, relax, and feel a sense of comfort in the knowledge
that you are already here.

Now you may protest “But I’m not peaceful, happy, fulfilled! I’ve been trying to
achieve peace for years and I’m not there yet!”

You cannot find something where it isn’t. Stop struggling. Stop searching. Accept
yourself exactly as you are. The search is over. Peace / love / fulfillment / joy; these
are at the core of who you are. When you stop trying to find them elsewhere, when
you give up the search, you will start to experience them.

Here’s the deal in a nutshell: When you are searching for peace, you presuppose that
you don‘t have it. What the thinker thinks the prover proves, so your neurology sorts
and filters all your perceptions to prove that you don’t have it. This becomes more
and more familiar over time, and the search continues. It is a search without an end.
Are you willing to give up the search?

You are already here. You never left. You only thought you did. You are whole and
complete. Relax. Let go. Allow yourself to discover who you really are.”

Don’t Fight the Work

I recently realised that being lazy – of which I am very guilty – is actually harder work than being diligent.

This might sound nuts to all you fellow couch potatoes out there, but really, it’s true. Here’s how it works:

1) You see something that needs doing.

2) You either do it, make a specific time to do it later, or roll your eyes and hope it will go away.

3) The first two options are not examples of being lazy, but rather of diligence (as long as you follow up on that appointment you made with yourself). You do the job and it’s done and either that’s it’s own reward or you have therefore avoided something unpleasant or you actually receive some kind of reward for your efforts.

4) Or you roll your eyes and hope the task will disappear – but it never does. So you end up wasting a lot of energy thinking about the task, being nagged about the task by others, watching the job get bigger (think mowing the lawn or doing the dishes) and generally putting a lot more time and energy into the task than you ever really needed to.

And this, by definition, is harder work than just doing the job at the first possible opportunity. It wastes far more energy.

Still, even though I know this, I have a lifetime habit of procrastination which I am yet to fully overcome 🙂

To help myself, I have a new mantra that has been working quite well for me over the last couple of months:

“Don’t fight the work; don’t fight the work”.

It reminds me that getting the work done ASAP is in fact less effort than procrastinating and so motivates me to get off my hairy bum and get to it!

NB: I would however like to point out that there is still and always will be room in my life for SOME laziness. I wouldn’t want to turn into some kind of a stress head. After all I am the guy who wrote the new anthem for the return of Slacker Culture.

More on Getting High Without Drugs

Psychedelic Meditation

Now despite the fact that there are very few comments at this previous post: How To Get High Without Drugs I still know thanks to the magic of my web traffic counter thing that this page is being viewed about two or three times a day by people Googling “How To Get High Without Drugs” or very similar.

Now in that post I mentioned the two ways I use to get high without drugs. The first way is performing my music on stage (or in my bedroom for that matter). I also mention that your version of “playing music” might be something else, like for example, racing Galapagos tortoises, or turtles or terrapins or whatever they are correctly referred to as. The point is: lose yourself in an activity that effectively pushes the right buttons for you so that you get high, need I re-iterate, without any drugs.

The second is meditating. I was going to post more about that but got kind of distracted, but it is half finished on my hard drive so I might as well piff it up online bit by bit and hopefully it will help people.

Now I know i could sell this information but at this stage I think I will roll with making it available for free for now. More very soon…

Getting Down with Furry Dudes

Whoops, just posted another tune. Here’s a fascinating excerpt of my “the making of” prattle that accompanies the mp3

” … a spider that was hanging around our lounge room at the time (normal stuff in Australia, and we are talking a big, hairy dude too!). Of course, he was just doing nothing much, as Hunstmen spiders do, and I admired him for this.

This was around the time I was first reading about meditation and Eastern Philosophies like Zen and the like, so I guess this was reflection of that… “

Click here too listen to the tune “Get Down” and lose yourself in the incredible rollicking tales of rock glory!

How To Get High Without Drugs

What if I told you there is a pretty simple, totally free, and thoroughly healthy way to get mind blowingly high everyday?

Well there is. I swear it is true.

But before I tell you how, allow me to ramble on a bit first …

I am pretty open to admitting that I have sampled my fair share of drugs over the years – and why? Because getting high is awesome.

Or at least it sometimes is.

And then sometimes is it not. And the older I (and many people) get the more it is not.

The problem is that drugs actually suck. Half the time they don’t work as well as you’d like and, in my experience at least, there are almost always downsides to the bargain. Like nausea, paranoia (I have never had that problem at least), depression, making an idiot of yourself, “brain fry” (ie. neurological damage), waste of money. And then there are longer term problems like loss of motivation and mental clarity, addiction, and the erosion of health. I could go on and on (but then I’d have to think too hard).

But look everyone knows this right? And when you’re young you don’t really care and when you get a little bit older some of us do start to care. Then some of that group stop or drastically cut down, and others keep going strong to (eventually) devastating consequences.

I have pretty much stopped altogether now. I say “pretty much” to cover myself. I reserve the right to turn around and develop a full blown drug binging lifestyle again at any moment. But it is seriously unlikely that I will.

Even the occasional smoke gets me nowhere these days. None of it really turns me on anymore.

And that sucks. I love getting high.

Well, I have two excellent ways to get high that I use and I am happy to share these with you now.

The first is performing music live in front of an audience. I have never ever experienced a better rush that this, not even when I smoked some heavy new fangled drug that shall remain nameless once a couple of years ago (which was awesome but I was mature enough to know that I would never do it again).

Now I have read that other kinds of performance or activities can give you the same awesome high that I get when I have a rocking gig in front of a receptive crowd. So if jumping off the side of mountains is your thing, or skateboarding, or horse riding or whatever, then just do heaps of that and you’ll never get a bigger kick.

And there’s another way, which is good if you don’t have the kind of passion like the above, and is otherwise good anyway because we can’t always be playing rock god or base jumper, is ….

Meditation.

Last night I spent forty minutes meditating before I went to bed. The last ten minutes of that time I spent watching the roof of my house lift off to reveal a brilliant starry sky, then a brightly coloured UFO came down and then I was suddenly floating on a blue ocean, my head fell back and the sun was shining and warm on my face…

I could go on but let me just point out that this was at about midnight and it was barely above zero degrees outside and we are in the hills miles from the ocean. Get my drift?

So I am not right now going to teach you how to meditate right here and now (later) but let me just assure you that you don’t need to take drugs to get high and that if you have given drugs up, all is not lost, you can still bliss out baby!

Thank God!